By: Madison Tait
Did you know that only 13.6% of children (ages 5-17) received any mental health care in 2019?! Just imagine all of the people who are waiting for mental health care. I don’t think
there is nearly enough access to therapy for teens and adults. I think we should make therapy for teens and adults much more accessible and affordable.
People are harming and even killing themselves because they are not able to get the help that they need. It has been found that significant causes of suicide are mental health issues like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and more. These issues often increase suicidal intentions and attempts.
Without the proper help, like a therapist or a counselor, these mental health concerns can get out of hand, and they have. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as the CDC) has found that 45,855 people died to suicide in 2020. It has also been said that 1 person died to suicide every 11 minutes in 2020. Most of the time people believe that they have no one to talk to about their personal difficulties, and can’t do anything about them, but therapists who are professionally trained to talk to others about their problems can help them develop coping mechanisms.
Oftentimes, people resort to smoking, drinking, or drugs because they don’t have access to affordable therapy. A study done by the CDC and SAMHSA said “Smoking prevalence among adults with mental illness ranged from about 18 percent in Utah to nearly 49 percent in West Virginia.” They state, “Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the country.” As you can see, tobacco consumption is very dangerous and has caused many deaths. It has been frequently used as an unhealthy and unsafe way to cope with mental illness. I think that if therapy was more readily available, we could prevent many of those deaths and help people struggling with mental illnesses find better and healthier ways to cope.
I think we should be more open and serious about mental health, and not treat it as something that should be ignored. A lot of the time, people who need help don’t get it because their problems are labeled as insignificant and not requiring a real conversation. They are embarrassed to get help even if they really need it because others act as though it is something to be ashamed of.
I interviewed my aunt, an experienced high school teacher who has seen firsthand some of these issues, and who has also struggled with mental health problems. She said “There are a lot of stigmas that your brain doesn’t count the way that other parts count. If you have heart problems you go to a heart doctor. If you have stomach problems you go to a gastroenterologist. But if you have brain problems you are expected to just get over it. That seeking help is a sign of weakness.” I think that this is an excellent point. People are expected to simply deal with their problems because sharing them with other people can be frowned upon. My aunt then said, “I have had a lot of anxiety in my life, and times when I would physically tense up or kind of go into shock (which is a form of anxiety attack). With therapy and better mental health support, I’m able to identify what it is, and then talk to myself rationally rather than getting more upset and spiralling.” Her firsthand experience indicates that therapy is very effective in dealing with these kinds of issues.
Some people might say that therapy and asking for help displays personal weakness, but I believe that mental and physical health are interconnected and that both are equally important. For example, if a person doesn’t take care of their mental health, that can negatively impact their physical well-being and can take a significant toll on their quality of life.
In summary, I believe that mental health services should become normalized, and more easily accessible. As you can see, without the right help, things can seriously escalate, and quickly become dangerous. The question is, what next steps can we, as individuals and as a community, take to normalize the seeking of mental health care?