Mental health goals are a sign of the times. The legislatures of half a dozen states are desperately trying to repair a system that has been broken for decades. Their desperation is warranted, because there are more people needing treatment than are receiving proper medical attention for mental illness.
Dr. Thomas Insel, the director for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), advises that the coming crisis is going to be a costly one if the issues confronting our country are not taken seriously. He spoke at an economic forum in Montana, where he said that Montana residents suffer from lower quality of life due to mental illness, and also serious effects from poor employment productivity.
If the United States can understand anything, it is the bottom line. Insel tries to bring the reality of the cost of doing nothing about mental health to the forefront. If legislatures are not willing to fund better healthcare for the mentally ill, such treatment will be paid for through disability benefits and loss of revenue for states.
Homelessness of the mentally ill is the direct effect of not having facilities available and ready to take those who cannot care for themselves. The denial of these services only puts a blight on the cities and towns who wish to “clean up” their communities, rather than take care of those in need. For instance, those who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs, to the extent of not having a home or alienating loved ones, are sometimes cleared out of parks and streets through placement in hospitals on a temporary basis. After sobering up, the individual is released to start the process over again.
Mental health goals are a sign of the times, which favor the community over impersonal institutions that may be far away from a patient’s environs.
Dan Aune, the executive director of the Montana Mental Health America of Montana, says he does not advocate more institutions, but instead, improved access to community-based services. With these services, those who live in the community can still get treatment while continuing to work and gain support from family and friends who are nearby.
Another sign of our times is e-mental health applications. Services comprise more than traditional health services via telephone. They include the use of streaming videos such as flash animation, social networking and different combinations of these technologies to deliver mental health care services. The e-mental health applications are becoming more interactive and flexible for those who can apply for mental health care services online.
The populations most frequently targeted for e–mental health applications are adults with depression or anxiety disorder. An encouraging amount of rigorous research supports the effectiveness of e–mental health applications, including therapist directed cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Research findings published by the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol confirm that those who are finding it difficult to get by financially have almost eight times the chances of reporting reduced mental stability compared with those who are living comfortably. The study proves how poor mental wellness and financial management are inextricably related, and has implications for policy in the fields of health and debt. The research is based on 20,000 samples of persons over the age of 50.
Mental health goals today are a sign of the times, with more community-based services, e-mental health applications and better home-based support along with professional, family and social support in the patient’s home.
Editorial by Lisa M Pickering