I was devastated when I realized that I would likely be disregarding of America’ s failing mental health system if it were not for my own nonverbal, autistic, younger brother. I find it terrifying to think that I would just be another kid who paid this issue no mind, if I did not have this personal connection. It disappoints me even more that there are many people who simply do not care about this problem, or even refer to this as a significant issue. Despite the occasional spark a deadly school shooting ignites in the discussion of mental illnesses, this topic is usually ignored and the invisible cult of depressed, autistic, bipolar, children remain hidden at the back of classrooms, where they become shadows of a system that fails to provide the resources essential to their growth. They are then forced to thrive in a competitive world, where people with differences are usually ostracized and shunned without a chance. In my project, I plan to connect the defective mental health care system to the general ignorance shared by the public about how these issues affect the mentally-challenged.
This picture metaphorically illustrates the dangers the breaches in the mental health care system cause in reference to the Connecticut shooting.
The numbers are sickening. 40,000 people die a year by means of suicide. Only 30% of depressed teenagers are being treated for depression. These statistics make me wonder: Why is there not a lot of emphasis being put on mental illnesses? Why do politicians seldom talk about underfunded special education programs at school? Why does death resuscitate the usually ephemeral debate? I believe that if the public was educated about the cracks in the mental health system,and the deadly consequences they engender, more citizens would care enough to drive an imperative discussion that can lead to awareness concerning ways to make people with mental illnesses feel welcome in the society they live in.
This picture represents a campaign to stop teen suicides.
For years, I have watched my parents struggle to provide my brother with the best opportunities, mainly because few exist without a hefty price tag. Moreover, many of the programs that are supposed to aid his development are uncoordinated to the extent when calling the state of unorganized, and sometimes ineffective services, offered to the mentally-challenged, a “ system”, can be questioned. Families in desperate need of assistance are usually forced to navigate a circuitous route, involving professionals who know little about their child’ s history, and experimenting with countless prescriptions, praying that one bottle of pills makes a difference in their children’ s lives along the way. These families, like my own, live in the constant fear of being unable to provide their loved ones with the necessities they need in order to stay healthy and content mainly because the current makeshift system is not secure enough to support their needs.
Through research, I found that there are only 7, 500 psychiatrists, while 20,000 are actually needed. 5 million American children suffer from mental illnesses, however, reimbursement for mental health services, from public and privates insurers, often falls short of providing the most salient services. These issues are seldom spoken about in society and in the media unless a mentally ill person goes on a murder spree. Even then, the excitement is short-lived.
This graph shoes how mental illnesses affects American students.
My project will bring awareness to the gaps in our mental health care system. I plan to do so by showcasing how little the public knows about the issues that negatively affect the mentally-ill through a survey and field observation at a treatment center , and correlating my findings to the broken system. Stay tuned!