We need to talk about America’s mental health crisis and its larger causes | Robert Reich

I want to talk about a troubling topic that demands more public discussion than it actually does: the unusually high level of anxiety in America.

A panel of medical experts is recommending that doctors screen all patients under 65, including children and teenagers, for what it calls anxiety disorders.

Panelist Lori Pbert, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine, called mental health disorders a crisis in the country.

recent new york times The article discusses so-called persistent depressive disorder (PDD), which an estimated 2% of U.S. adults have experienced in the past year.

Nearly 50,000 people died by suicide in the United States last year, according to the latest provisional count from the National Center for Health Statistics. (The agency said the final count could be higher.)

There are currently 14.3 suicides per 100,000 Americans, the highest level since the United States entered World War II in 1941.

Last year, suicide rates were highest among men aged 75 and older, at nearly 44 per 100,000 people, twice the rate for those aged 15 to 24. Although women are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, they are four times more likely to die by suicide than men.

The suicide rate among Native Americans is nearly twice the rate for other Americans.

(Some good news: Suicide rates fell 18% among children ages 10 to 14 and 9% among those ages 15 to 24, bringing suicide rates in these groups back to pre-pandemic levels.)

How is this going?

Perhaps widespread anxiety and depression, along with near-record suicide rates, should not be viewed as personal Dissonance.

Perhaps in many cases they should be viewed as rational responses to a problem. society This is becoming more and more disorganized.

After all, whose no Worried about rising housing costs and increasing job and income instability?

Who (besides Trump supporters) no Afraid of Trump’s attack on democracy and the possibility of another Trump presidency?

World Health Organization No Worried about a mass shooting at their child or grandchild’s school?

World Health Organization no Affected by the climate crisis?

Coupled with increasingly brutal racial discrimination. Misogyny is growing. Anti-abortion laws. Homophobia and transphobia. Attacks against Asian Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Arab Americans and other minorities. What we see and read on social media is increasingly vulgar and ugly.

Think about all this if you No Anxious, stressed and often depressed.

Research shows that women are almost twice as likely to develop depression than men. Stress levels are also higher among black people, with the suicide rate among black Americans increasing by 30% from 2014 to 2019.

Is there a disease that women and black people suffer from? Or is it their reaction to reality? Or both?

White people without college degrees are particularly vulnerable to death from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholic liver disease, as is the cardiovascular impact of rising obesity rates.

Are they suffering from a disease or are they responding to fundamental changes in American society? Or both?

In their book Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton argue that without the destruction of the white working class, white deaths of despair would not have occurred, nor would they have been as severe.

Part of the problem, they say, is that people with less education are often underpaid and disrespected and feel the system is stacked against them.

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Even if we had more mental health professionals, how would they deal with these powerful enemies? Prescribe more medicine? If anything, Americans may be overmedicated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against better access to mental health care. In fact, quite the opposite. There is an urgent need to increase staffing and improve access to mental health care.

Mental health care is harder to find now than it was before the pandemic. About half of the U.S. population lives in areas without mental health professionals, and about 8,500 such professionals are needed to fill the gap, federal data shows. Most people rely on their family doctor for mental health care.

Officials are working to increase awareness of the national suicide and crisis lifeline, which saw 988 calls last year.

But in Add to In order to provide more and better mental health services and suicide and crisis hotlines, we should not strive to make our society healthier?

Americans have the worst economic security of all residents of the developed world. A healthy society requires more job security and stronger safety nets.

The distribution of income and wealth in the United States is the most unequal of any other developed nation. A healthy society ensures that no one working full time is poor and imposes high taxes on the wealthy to help pay for what society needs.

Guns and assault weapons are easier to purchase in the United States than in any other developed country. A healthy society bans assault weapons and makes it difficult to purchase guns.

Compared with other developed countries, a lower share of Americans has access to affordable health care. A healthy society can ensure people’s health.

The United States emits more carbon dioxide into the air per capita than almost any other developed nation. A healthy society better protects the environment.

Big money plays a greater role in American politics than in almost any other developed country. A healthy society does not allow big money to bribe politicians.

Some American politicians, such as Donald Trump, gain power by inciting racism, xenophobia and homophobia. A healthy society would not elect such people.

The list could be longer, but you get the idea. The anxiety disorders Americans suffer from are real and apparently growing. But rather than just seeing them as individual disorders, perhaps we need to understand them, at least in part, as social disorders and begin to remedy them as a society.

To be sure, meeting any of these standards for a healthy society is difficult.

But without efforts to achieve these goals, no amount of mental health professionals, medications, or hotlines will be enough to significantly reduce the stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts that many Americans are experiencing right now.

In the United States, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 to chat at 988lifeline.org Or text HOME to 741741 to contact a crisis counselor. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In Australia, the crisis support service lifeline is 13 11 14.Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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