Top five mental health care woes

Mental health care is available for children and adults of all ages. Unfortunately, many people do not seek care for various reasons. This lack of treatment can lead to a worsening of the condition, deterioration of physical and mental health, suicide, legal problems, marital breakdown, job loss and substance abuse. People with mental health issues should be encouraged by friends and family to seek appropriate mental health care.

A study published in 2007, titled "Perceived Barriers to Mental Health Service Utilization in the United States, Ontario and the Netherlands," reported that attitudinal barriers commonly caused Americans to not seek mental health care. These barriers include believing that the mental illness will resolve on its own and not believing that psychiatric care is beneficial.

Financial Concerns and Disparity
Many people do not seek mental health care for financial reasons. A lack of health insurance coverage, or coverage that leaves a large amount owed by the patient, leads many to avoid seeking care. Many Americans are unaware of the free or discounted mental health services available to them in city, county, state, private or Veterans Administration clinics and facilities. A report from former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., PhD., states that racial, age, cultural and gender disparities exist in the seeking of services, mostly linked to financial issues.

Poor Self-perception
Unlike physical illnesses, it is the nature of many mental illnesses that the patient does not realize he is ill. Believing his behavior, emotions and mental status are normal, he may experience a lifetime of disordered thinking that could be greatly improved with appropriate treatment. Family intervention is critical to successful illness stabilization in these cases.

Poor Access
Some Americans have poor access to mental health care services because they live in a rural environment. Others cannot logistically get to treatment because of lack of transportation or overwhelming work and home responsibilities. In some areas, a mental health professional is available, but inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is not. Inner-city clinics may have such long waiting lists that mentally ill people give up on receiving care.

The Community Action Network reports that many patients feel a stigma exists regarding the mentally ill and that negative stereotypes could damage their careers or relationships. Embarrassment and fear of what others may think prevent many from seeking or continuing the services they need.

* American Psychiatric Association: Perceived Barriers to Mental Health Service Utilization in United States, Ontario and the Netherlands
* Surgeon General: Mental Health
* Community Action Network: Adult Mental Health Barriers

Top five mental health care woes was originally published on LIVESTRONG.COM.

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