The Future of Mental Health Awareness: A Global Perspective.

Author:Bennett, Kathryn S.

A Global Perspective

Mental illness is an issue in need of critical and immediate attention on the global health front. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 400 million people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder or psychosocial infirmity, while only one in four sufferers are adequately diagnosed and treated. Mental illness accounts for approximately 12 percent of all disease worldwide and half of all measurable disabilities.

High-risk populations include the massive numbers of abused youths, refugees, and those traumatized by civil or external strife in their native lands. According to studies conducted by the Mental Health Institute (MHI) from 1995 to 2000, in the United States alone mental illness accounts for 21 percent of all hospital admissions, surpassing all other justifications for admission, and 16 percent of the general population is mentally ill. A global surge in mental health awareness is currently in progress, but current treatment and identification are certainly substandard, as is evident from the aforementioned statistics.

Mental ailments don't discriminate by creed, race, or gender; however, societies tend to wrongfully discriminate against those suffering from such disorders. A global stigma against those with mental illness prevents the afflicted from receiving proper care and unnecessarily instills fear in both sufferers and society as a whole. This customary disrespect creates barriers that drive potential patients away from health care facilities. The Center for Mental Health Serices (CMHS) reports that only one in four people in the United States seeks assistance--this small percentage due mostly to fear of being discriminated against.

Global health care organizations must not be restricted to treating only physical infirmities. The massive populations of undiagnosed, untreated sufferers from mental illness are often ignored because their ailment might not be manifested physically or pose an immediate threat to personal and societal safety. However, mental disorders are valid infirmities; medical experts repeat the apothegm, "Whatever is psychological is simultaneously biological." Thus, those receiving mental care are physically ill. Mental clinics and help organizations provide absolutely essential services; their efforts aren't frivolous but directed toward a generally stigmatized population and are thus widely undervalued. Nations receiving assistance in improving direct physical...

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