This US election it is time for mental health and mental health care in America to come out of the darkness, with approximately 42.5million or 18.1% of American adults suffering from mental illness.
There are many issues that are linked to mental health in America, from gun crime to healthcare from the prison system to the police force in the United States.
Starting with healthcare, mental health care is extremely expensive in America so unless you can pay, you are not going to get sufficient mental health support. This time bomb in the American healthcare system that seems to be ready to explode isn't being addressed. We have heard from major presidential candidates from both sides, the Republicans to the Democrats have expressed concern about the need to improve mental health care but simply not a sufficient amount; more debates need to happen on this issue. For example according to the Washington Post, states have cut their mental health budget during recession by $1.8 billion. It seems in healthcare that mental health is still falling behind further and further even more than the United Kingdom, even after the brilliant campaigning by ex Member of the U.S House of Representatives and non-other than Patrick J Kennedy, it still seems like mental health care in America is an afterthought.
The next issue is gun crime and how in the past couple of weeks many have called for more in depth checks when purchasing a gun including someone's mental health background, Donald Trump even called the gun crime epidemic a "mental health issue," those comments were followed this week by President Obama mentioning more checks on someone's mental health background before the purchase of a gun. Is this fair?
President Obama message was powerful and he really gave a heartfelt and admirable speech but it's very important to not be carried away with implicating people with mental health conditions and drawing correlations to such horrific events as named in the speech. It shows that we need a bigger discussion on the correlation between gun crime and mental illness. With that said it has been reported that the Obama Administration is proposing an investment of $500 million into increased access to mental health care.
The next issue is to address the police, there has been much speculation on whether the police have enough training on how to deal with someone suffering from a mental health crisis, and this is not just an issue in the U.S but an issue in the United Kingdom. With better training we could potentially prevent the mentally ill ending up in prison.
The next worrying factor to include is the amount of people suffering from mental illness ending up in the American prison system. In June 2015, now presidential candidate John Kasich said "now I don't know how many of you know people who struggle with these illnesses, but if you've got a problem with schizophrenia you find yourself in a prison? It's a disgrace in this country." Very strong words, but is there actually anything happening to counteract this problem.
The fundamentals of the situation is mental health costs lives, it needs to be looked at very closely in the upcoming presidential election on both sides, it needs to be a bipartisan issue and it's time America started talking about mental health.