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Conscious Living Health & wellness

America’s Mental Health- Part 1

December 28, 2017

America’s Mental Health- Part 1

Societal Suffering

Our greatest challenges as humans are often the ones that we face together. The collective burden that we bare in times of difficulty forces our society to address the struggle of many so that we may confront aspects of our own suffering that manifests itself in discreet and subtle ways. When the human race encounters a common enemy we awaken to the bond that we share with one another and realize the strength in unity that we carry within us permeates our entire being.

When meaning and purpose are hijacked by a culture that convinces us of a false existence, we sacrifice our minds and our hearts to the system of society to no avail. With the overwhelming and rapid pace of modern life in America, we often fail to address the most fundamental aspects of our existence. The physical and mental health that allow us to thrive and lead a successful life are pushed to the side as we pursue money, status and material possessions, forever neglecting the importance of the present moment with a worrying eye always on the future.

Our culture struggles in misery as we push forward in pursuit of these external possessions, which requires that we continue to live a life of suffering so that we may persist in pursuit of more material possessions. We perform tasks at jobs we despise in order to receive payment to purchase things we do not need in an attempt to fill the gaps left from neglecting our true selves, a vicious cycle of prolonged misery that we put ourselves through.

The infinite wonder, creativity and imagination that our minds produce are suppressed and our mental freedom is stollen as mainstream media, clever marketing and pharmaceutical companies convince our society of an inherent mental illness that requires pharmaceutical and government  approved medication. The anti-depressants, sedatives and psychiatric opiates that flood our culture today are a band-aid solution to a fundamental human problem that exists as a result of an overwhelming sense that something is missing in our lives that modern society is not providing. We turn to medication for help in pulling us out of these dark places in our mind, but fail to realize that our suffering is a product of our own thoughts and are unable to see that the solution exists within ourselves when we choose to make the change in our actions and intentions by redefining what meaning and purpose mean to us instead of subjecting ourselves to the purpose that our culture pushes onto us.

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are a result of mild to severe changes and disturbances in thought or behavior that interfere with an individuals ability to cope with the demands of modern society. The most common mental illnesses in America are characterized under mood disorders, such as: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, social phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and ADD/ADHD.

Forty-four million Americans suffer from a debilitating mental illness each year. The average American has a forty-seven percent chance of suffering from a mental health disorder over the course of ones lifetime. Modern society exacerbates these problems by failing to treat the underlying cause of mental illness, choosing instead to throw greater sums of money at the problem in the belief that money is the solution to our suffering and not the cause.

In 1986, the United States spent thirty-one billion dollars on mental health treatment; by 2003, that number reached one-hundred billion dollars. Each year this number rises, reaching $163 billion in 2011 and ipassing $203 billion in 2017. During this time, unintentional overdose deaths due to prescription opiates quadrupled, going from eight-thousand in 1999 to thirty-three thousand in 2015, reaching a total of over 183,000 opioid overdose deaths in sixteen years.

Suicides are now the tenth leading cause of death and make up two-thirds of deaths caused by firearms. Even with hundreds of billions of dollars in funding and advances in medical treatment, sixty percent of American adults living with a mild to severe mental illness receive no help at all due to the stigmatization and burden that our society places on individuals suffering from a mental disorder, causing them to feel alone and isolated from expressing their illness to others.

Healthcare System

The deterioration of Americas mental health and the healthcare system begins in the 1950s, when mentally ill patients housed in hospitals peaks at 560,000. Cuts in the federal budget and the passage of Medicaid incentivized states to reclassify severe mental illness in order to save on medical treatment.

Between 1955 and 1994, 487,000 patients suffering from mental illness were transferred into federally funded community health centers, taken in by family members, or left to fend for themselves on the streets. The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill from medical treatment centers the United States is better classified as a reclassification and reinstitutionalization of Americas prison population, an out of control American social experiment. As people suffering from severe mental illness are left on the streets without proper medical treatment, their mind deteriorates into chaos and they eventually lack the ability to operate inside of society, ultimately left to Americas judicial system and prison industrial complex to pay for their crimes. Today, over 383,000 local, state and federal inmates are said to suffer from a sever psychiatric disorder since the period of deinstitutionalization in the 1950s; ten times the amount of people with a severe mental illness are locked up in prison than in psychiatric medical centers.

Americas ignorance of severe mental illness, our inability to address the underlying cause of the disorder, and the failure of the healthcare industry and federal government to adequately fund care for mental illness ensures that our society will continue to ignore the mistakes of our past.

Before the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities, very few methods existed for the treatment of mental health. Many people were subject to cruel forms of torture in the form of electroshock therapy and lobotomies, a surgical procedure that involves the slicing of the prefrontal lobe as a means to sever the connections to the other parts of the brain.

The creation of antipsychotic drugs like Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) in 1950, motivated the push towards deinstitutionalization as society awaked to the immorality of the more severe psychiatric treatments. Thorazine treats severe psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia but is increasingly used as a treatment for less severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. Thorazine represents the first antipsychotic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is also the beginning of an era of Americas obsession with prescription opioid medical treatment. Long-term use of older antipsychotics, like Thorazine, may cause a side effect called Tardive Dyskinesia, a movement disorder characterized by stiff and repetitive involuntary movements, loss of control of the face, lips and tongue and other parts of the body. Part 2

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