mental illness stigma

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / Side Effects Public Media

It’s the middle of summer but Harrisburg Middle School is a hive of activity. Between summer school classes and renovations, it’s a little chaotic for counselor Brett Rawlings, who just wrapped up his first year at the school.

Harrisburg is a town of fewer than 300 people, midway between St. Louis and Kansas City. But the school also serves the surrounding area, which is primarily farmland. As the K-8 counselor, Rawlings is responsible for some 400 students, and he deals with a range of issues.

Clinics Help Keep People With Serious Mental Illness Out Of ER

Nov 22, 2016
Bahram Mark Sobhani/for KHN

SAN ANTONIO— Yolanda Solar has battled a life-threatening disease for more than three decades.

The disease nearly killed her last summer, and Solar, a 73-year-old grandmother, was rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

Community-Based Care Can Reduce The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Jul 5, 2016

Mental illness has been part of human society throughout recorded history, but how we care for people with mental disorders has changed radically, and not always for the better.

In Colonial days, settlers lived in sparsely populated rural communities where sanctuary and community support enabled the tradition of family care brought from England. "Distracted persons" were acknowledged, but erratic behavior wasn't associated with disease.

ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Young people with health problems left un-cared for in adolescence face higher risks of leading unhealthy lives as adults, a new study finds.

A study of 14,800 people found that the odds of adverse adult health conditions were 13 percent to 52 percent higher among those who reported unmet health needs as adolescents than for those whose who did not have unmet needs as teens but who were otherwise comparable. The study was conducted first in 1994-1995 when many subjects were in their mid-teens and again in 2008 when many were in their late 20s.

Number of Providers per 1,000 Adults with Addictions
Jeff Zornitsky / Advocates for Human Potential

This story was provided to Sound Medicine by Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The number of people with insurance coverage for alcohol and drug abuse disorders is about to explode at a time there’s already a severe shortage of trained behavioral health professionals in many states.

Until now, there’s been no data on just how severe the shortage is and where it’s most dire.  Jeff Zornitsky of the health care consulting firm Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) has developed the first measurement of how many behavioral health professionals are available to treat millions of adults with a substance use disorder, or SUD, in all 50 states.

Zornitsky’s “provider availability index” – the number of psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers available to treat every 1,000 people with SUD – ranges from a high of 70 in Vermont to a low of 11 in Nevada. Nationally, the average is 32 behavioral health specialists for every 1,000 people afflicted with the disorder.  No one has determined what the ideal number of providers should be, but experts agree the current workforce is inadequate in most parts of the country.

“Right now we’re in a severe workforce crisis,” said Becky Vaughn, addictions director for the industry organization National Council for Behavioral Health.  The shortage has consequences, she said. “When people need help for addictions, they need it right away. There’s no such thing as a waiting list. If you put someone on a waiting list, you won’t be able to find them the next day.”

The shortage of specialists threatens to stall a national movement to bring the prevention and treatment of SUD into the mainstream of American medicine at a time when millions of people with addictions have a greater ability to pay for treatment thanks to insurance.

Love, respect, integration into communities, work, housing, food and clean water: That's what mentally ill people, like all human beings, need. Instead, in many parts of the developing world, people with mental illness are chained, nearly starved and even locked in a cage with a wild animal like a hyena to scare the demons out of them.

Sound Medicine: October 21, 2007

Oct 21, 2007

Topics for this week include: Swimming for Seniors; Mysterious Human Heart: Cardiac Genetics; What Use is the Appendix?; Fading Stigma of Mental Illness; Mental Health on College Campuses; Learning From Storytelling; Lessons Learned: the 1918 Flu Epidemic