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Towards mental health

Melvin B. Miller
Towards mental health
“Look at the news — there seems to be a worldwide epidemic of mental illness.” (Photo: Dan Drew)

Mental illness is widespread in America but few people are aware it’s so pervasive. When a murder occurs by a seemingly deranged assailant, people often believe that mental illness was the driving force. How could they not think so? Why else would Vester Lee Flanagan II, a disgruntled TV reporter, shoot to death while they are on camera his former colleagues at a Roanoke, Va. TV station? What else would drive Dylan Roof to assassinate nine parishioners at a church in Charleston, S.C.? Despite the all-too-frequent recurrence of such events, the public still sees mental disease as a relatively minor deviancy.

According to the National Association of Mental Illness, about 45 million U.S. adults, approximately 20 percent of that population, annually suffer from a mental illness episode. That is a much larger number than the 14 million living with cancer and the 29 million afflicted with diabetes. Unfortunately, an estimated 60 percent of those suffering from mental illness in any year will not receive treatment.

One reason for this treament deficiency is that many people would rather suffer in silence than acknowledge they are having difficulties. There is a fear of being branded as crazy. They also know people fear that those with mental illness will become violent.

Another reason for the lack of treatment is the cost. A recent survey indicates that the 40 percent who received treatment cost $51.1 billion in 2012, with most of the funds spent for medications. And most mental illnesses can be treated with prescription medications.

Mental illness usually results from a chemical deficiency in the brain, the most complicated of all human organs. Because of the high incidence of such illnesses, everyone should become familiar with the various symptoms. The fall issue of the Banner’s health magazine, “Be Healthy”, will be dedicated to this complex subject.

In order to be helpful to friends and relatives who might be unaware of the nature of the problem they are experiencing, it is good for someone in the family to be informed of the danger signs. The knowledge provided by “Be Healthy” will be first aid for future mental illness problems.