OPINION: The Mental Health System is broken


Soundharjya Babu

Robert Morris University Hosts the Third Annual Out of the Darkness Walk to raise mental health awareness. Photo Credit: (RMU Sentry Media/ Soundharjya Babu)

Cole Brennan, Contributor

If you are someone who is struggling with their mental health, help is available and these are treatable illnesses with the proper care. It is ok to not be okay.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline- 1-800-273-8255

Resolve Pittsburgh 1-888-796-8266

National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264

National Hopeline Network 1-800-784-2433

The Mental Health System Is Broken

In the United States and the rest of the world, the mental health system is broken.

There are many reasons why the world is dealing with a mental health crisis. Insurance does not always cover mental health appointments, therapists leave their clients which forces their clients to find a new therapist, and some mental health care facilities don’t give referrals for patients to continue their care.

Mental health is stigmatized, and now we are seeing the effects of this broken system.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of depression increased, rates of anxiety skyrocketed, and the rates of suicide rose.

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2019.

Health Insurance is expensive and if a patient’s insurance does not cover the cost of an appointment, this could discourage people to continue getting the help they need. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that patients who used a residential treatment facility only covered private insurance 58 percent of the time.

Most high schools do not have trained mental health professionals to help students. All the schools have is a school nurse to help with a student’s physical health but why isn’t there a professional to help with a student’s mental health?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one in three high schoolers experienced persistent feelings of hopelessness and sadness.

The CDC also says 9.8 percent have ADHD, 9.4 percent have anxiety disorders, 8.9 percent have behavior problems, and 4.4 percent have depression.

A lot of mental health conditions occur together with another mental disorder.

The CDC came out with a study regarding suicide in children ages 12-17. The study showed that 18.8 percent have seriously considered attempting suicide, 15.7 percent have made a suicide plan, 8.9 percent have attempted suicide, and 2.5 percent have attempted suicide and required medical treatment.

The department of health and human services is calling on schools to enhance early identification methods to assess students’ mental health.

Mental health care facilities at times do not offer strong support for people who are struggling. Unfortunately, some mental health care facilities are awful. Some mental health care facilities do not truly help people in addressing their needs and concerns. According to the National Institutes of Health, people who were hospitalized had a higher chance of being negatively satisfied.

Other reasons that contribute to poor mental health include therapists who should not be working in the field of mental health. They can be mean, toxic, bad at their jobs, ignore patients and their feelings, and not care about the patient.

However, there are some very good mental health professionals who care, validate their client’s feelings, nice, sweet, and respect their patients’ boundaries.

Some mental health cares may not give good referrals and tell the patient to pretty much do it themselves. It can be very challenging to find a good therapist who fits well with that person. Giving good referrals to good caring people is what mentally ill patients deserve. Oregon.gov states that patients only felt socially connected with their professionals 55 percent of the time.

Giving a referral and helping a patient find quality mental health care is what mental health practices are supposed to do. It can be very stressful for a patient who might not know good therapists to find a professional who is good.

It is morally wrong for a professional who specializes in mental health to not help a patient find care. Counselors are supposed to be there for patients and be helpful.

Ways to Fix it

It is easy for us to say the mental health system is broken and that it needs to be fixed, but there must be action taken to address the mental health crisis.

The growing mental health problem around the world must be declared a national health emergency.

We must fund research on proper treatments to address a patient’s issues.

We must continue to train therapists, doctors, and emergency responders to help mentally ill patients when they’re in crisis.

It should be a federal law to require a mental health professional in every school across our nation to help assist students who are experiencing difficulties.

Teachers and school officials should be trained in the warning signs of mental illnesses. Teachers and school officials should be required to report major changes in a child’s mood, feelings of hopelessness, significant distress, and extreme irritability.

Schools should provide mental health education, that educates students on how to live a mentally healthy lifestyle.

It should be illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage for a mentally ill patient’s treatment.

It should be illegal for health care facilities to not help a patient find proper mental health care.

Therapists, and psychiatrists, who are mean, toxic, non-caring, should be immediately fired and removed from working with that patient.

I believe by taking these actions and the continued advocation for mental health awareness. Society can end the stigma surrounding mental health.