According to research conducted by the National Institute for Mental Health, roughly 18 percent of Americans experience some type of mental disorder in a given 12-month period.
And despite mental illness having effects on our physical health, Americans do not seem to prioritize mental health.
“Mental health issues are often very closely tied to physical health issues,” clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona told NBC. “Mental illness is associated with increased occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy and cancer.”
Screening yearly for mental health issues could be a sign of preventive care, just like our annual physical, vision and dental exams. So why don’t we prioritize mental health?
One reason is financial. According to Cilona, “Mental health issues cost the U.S. economy close to $200 billion dollars in lost wages alone, plus about $100 billion in healthcare costs.”
Even with insurance, many complain that insurance companies make it difficult to obtain reimbursement for mental health treatment, not to mention the issue of shopping around for the right mental health professional. In fact, nearly half of Americans with severe mental illness don’t seek treatment.
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