You are on page 1of 6

Nigg 1 Cameron Nigg Mrs.

Caruso ENGL 1102 26 March 2013 A Nation, Plagued By Mental Illness For the CAP Project, I would like to respond to “Why can't America care for the mentally ill?”, an article by Dr. Keith Ablow. This article makes a call to reform the current mental health system in the United States, in light of recent events such as the Newtown and Aurora shootings. The article talks about the need for many improvements in the system, in areas such as legislation, treatment, prevention and improvement in the doctors who treat these patients. I decided to respond to this article because it was my initial inquiry article and it gives me several different directions to take my paper. I will be able to give my opinions on the laws and regulations regarding the mental health system. I will be able to talk about insurance and being mentally ill, what groups aid the plight of mentally ill American’s, and my opinions on treatment and healthcare for the mentally ill. I will also be backing up my opinions and statements with new sources that I find on the internet to give my project more validity. I have decided to respond to this article because it appears to be a very important topic of discussion and controversy in the American media, ever since the several shootings that have

Nigg 2 occurred over the past year. I also feel like this piece is very important to individuals around my age, who suffer from; mental illness, chronic drug abuse, or emotionally traumatic events. For the context of this project, I would like to give other ways to improve the mental health system and bring more awareness to this issue perhaps. I would like to respond to the same audience as the author, and perhaps the author as well. I could also write to doctor’s maybe, or politicians on the issue. I hope to educate others with this piece and maybe motivate others to do something about mental health. In the long run, I would like my project to inspire others and create a change in how people view mental health so that they may motivate others to want a change. This response is worth writing because I believe a lot of good can come from effectively treating mentally ill individuals and prevent harm to many people including the ill. As far as what genre I will use for this paper, I have been thinking about maybe another article, a letter to people who have the power to make changes (politicians, doctors, insurance companies). Or perhaps I could write a blog to spread my own ideas on how to improve the mental health predicament. All of these things could drastically change the tone of my paper however, especially if I am choosing between writing to the general public, a group of individuals, or just an individual. Hopefully I will be able to better determine which after I talk with Mrs. Caruso tomorrow. The world that we live in today is no longer the same as the one we lived in several decades ago. As time passes our youth continue to develop mental illnesses as they mature and head into adulthood. The soldiers who defend our country with their lives come back from war, traumatized by violence and personal loss. Our nation’s teenagers struggle to find their place in society, thus increasing the number of depressed and mentally ill youth. To exacerbate the

Nigg 3 situation, many of these individuals have ready access to alcohol, drugs, and weapons. This accumulation of factors has produced an explosive formula for death and destruction that continues to move freely and unchecked in our society. Mental illness runs rampant in the United States. It is ugly, but the truth is that our mental health system is failing thousands of our fellow Americans every, single, day. As a country, we have our work cut out for us. People are executed in our nation’s schools. Civilians are attacked when gathered in social outlets all around our country. This cycle continues over and over again and nothing ever changes. It is time to attack the issues plaguing our mental health system at their source. America needs to recognize that mental illness is not something to shun, and it is not something that is untreatable. As Americans we should seek to educate ourselves in recognizing symptoms of poor mental health. We need to recognize that our nation’s hospitals and health centers are not well staffed or equipped to treat our multitudes of mentally ill individuals. The way our doctors currently approach treating mental health is ineffective in several cases. In the case of Cynthia Shouse, a young teenager who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and Asperger’s, treatment was very difficult to find. At one point while she was looking for treatment, she had to wait for 7 months to find treatment at a residential program in Des Moines. There are just too few mental health professionals and too many kids with mental illnesses, according to Rick Shults, Iowa’s top administrator in the Department of Human Services for mental health. These delays slow treatment, and leave mentally ill patients at risk of harm to themselves and others. And on top of it all, insurance complications and money regularly get in the way of effective treatment for the mental ill. Information regarding these conclusions and opinions can be found in an article titled “Why can't America care for the mentally ill?” by Dr. Keith Ablow on Fox Dr.

Nigg 4 Ablow analyzed and criticized the current setup of the United States’ mental health system, stating that the mental health system is “shattered and on its knees” (Ablow par 5) because of several debilitating issues, which include: insurance companies being unwilling to pay for effective treatment, and lack of psychological and psychiatric resources available to schools around the country. Many of these insurance companies are not willing to send their clients to health professionals with doctorates, because it is cheaper to send them to people with four year degrees. These individuals are not as experienced as their colleagues with doctorates and have difficulty administering effective and reliable treatments to patients. Even counselors at our nation’s schools are understaffed and under educated because of cost. We need to send a message to our government, a message saying that we need to improve the quality of our care. We want the best mental healthcare, because our families and friends deserve it. Americans need to stop ignoring people with mental illness, turning a blind eye on our family members, friends, and co-workers who could be suffering from mental illnesses. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2 percent of Americans 18 and older suffer from a mental illness in a given year. (NIMH par 1) That is 1 in 4 adults. Even more surprising is that serious mental illnesses are prevalent in 6 percent of Americans, or 1 in 17 (NIMH par 1). The average class size in many public schools is generally in the high twenties. That means roughly 1 student in a class will suffer a severe mental illness in any given school year. And in colleges there are even more students per class, in high stress environments. We need to change how we view mental illness as Americans, and recognize that mental illness is not something to fear and shun. If we change the way we view mental illness, and become more supportive, afflicted individuals would be more willing to get treatment.

Nigg 5 The hospitals of our country cannot treat the mentally ill. They are not equipped to provide for the long stays of mentally ill individuals. Gone are the days of the asylum, and many psychiatric hospitals and programs are only viable options to people with money. We need to place more beds space in our hospitals, to keep the mentally ill out of much needed emergency rooms and brutal prisons. In an article published recently, North Carolina has started creating more beds. According to an article posted on the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, North Carolina has started a “Three-way Contract” Effectively purchasing “135 beds at 22 hospitals” all across the state. We need more of these types of improvements in other states across the United States. The current way our qualified doctors treat mental illness is effective, but is most effective when counseling is frequent and a patient is correctly medicated. Far too often a doctor and patient will only meet once a week, when meeting twice or even three times a week would be much more effective. There is even more information regarding various types of treatments online, and each can be used by mental health professionals. Improving treatment, awareness of mental illness and access to treatment is how we are going to improve our countries mental health system. And our mental health system is by no means an easy fix. While these reforms and changes may not completely eradicate the violent acts caused by the mentally ill, they should reduce the overall amount of violent acts that are committed by individuals who suffer from severe mental illness.

Nigg 6 Works Cited Leys, Tony. “Iowa struggles to treat children with mental illness.” USA Today. USA Today, 27 January 2013. Ablow, Keith. “Why can't America care for the mentally ill? ” Fox News. Fox News, 17 December 2012. National Institute of Mental Health. “The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America”. National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Mental Health, 04 February 2013.