Mental Health disorders are on the rise, and healthcare officials worry about the burden of these illnesses across the globe. Recent studies show that mental disorders and illegal drug abuse cases have risen steadily in the last 20 years. The policies to manage and alleviate the suffering of people with these disorders are not keeping pace with the growing needs of people with these issues. Mental health and substance abuse disorders increased almost 38 percent between 1990 and 2010, and these disorders were globally the leading cause of non-fatal disease. Ian Hickie, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, said that mental health and substance abuse are extremely large factors of death and disability worldwide.
Even with all the factors of mental disorders and illegal drug use increasing, the overall burden to the healthcare system is still smaller than that of smoking and alcohol. These two substances are responsible for around 10 percent of the burden for death and illness worldwide.
One of the major mental health disorders is depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 10 adults is suffering with this illness, and 11 percent of the population is on antidepressant medication. Forty-six percent of Americans fit the criteria for a diagnosis of mental illness.
Experts say that something is changing that makes life seem more challenging for people, especially young people. Anxiety disorders are becoming common, and a study released in January 2010 showed that depression and suicidal tendencies are on the rise on university campuses in Canada and the U.S. Some experts point to the economy being part of the problem, with people unable to work and provide for their families. Contributing to the rise of mental health disorders is the failure of the economy to support and employ growing numbers of students looking for work.
The stigma of having a mental illness contributes to the problem as well, with people being too ashamed to admit they have mental issues and refusing to seek treatment or take their medications. Kendra Fisher sums up her battle by saying that mental illness cannot be seen and that people have learned how to hide their symptoms and put on a brave face. Yet Fisher expresses the idea that the stigma should be removed in order for people to be more aware of the symptoms and not feel ashamed to seek psychiatric care.
Worldwide, mental illness and substance abuse disorders are responsible for higher global death and illness rates than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diabetes. Many health experts are asking why this rise in mental health disturbances is happening, and some attribute it to higher stress levels at work and school, as well as inadequate nutrition through pesticides on food and poor eating habits. It has also been shown that sugar consumption contributes to mental and behavioral problems, as does a diet where high fructose sugars are consumed disproportionately. This contributes to the idea that the number of mental health disorders is rising not just because of societal problems, but because the food supply is denying humans the vital nutrients needed to support overall health. One key factor that puts a spotlight on the economy is the financial inaccessibility of foods that are nutritious due to rising production and fuel costs.
Yet here are methods that those suffering from mental illness can take to naturally help them manage their symptoms. There are many ways to cope with mental illness, and some are as simple as getting plenty of rest, eating nutritious yet affordable foods, and getting out in the sunshine. While it is true that mental illness is a burden on the healthcare system, proper training and education of mental health professionals, as well as those who have a mental illness, may be a way to combat this growing problem.
By Adrianne Hill