Understanding Mental Illness

December 20, 2012 by  


By Almas Akhtar, TMO

missing-puzzle-piece-shadowAs people try to absorb the tragedy in Newtown , CT  in which 20 innocent kids between the ages of 6 and 7 were killed. More details are emerging about the shooter who was a 20 year old man; it is believed that he most likely suffered from a mental illness. This tragedy also brings to light major shortages in the funding and medical care of patients suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness is a real disease that can be treated, and those who receive timely and effective treatment .Tragedies like Sandy Hook, CT are often evidence of failed mental-health policies. Mental illness treatment laws and policies need to be improved and should be accessible to every citizen.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in every 17 Americans is suffering from a serious mental illness; but less than a third of people with a mental illness receive treatment. There was no “official” definition of mental health but cultural differences, subjective assessments, and professional assessments all affect how “mental health” is defined. There are different types of mental health problems, some of which are common, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and bipolar disorders. It is believed that the Newtown, CT shooting on December 14th will help put light on “mental heathcare” in the United States and how people can get easy access to it.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) has released few statements after the Newtown shooting to create more awareness among people to approach a psychiatrist if they or a family members are  suffering from any kind of mental health problems . In most cases people are shy and scared to go to a clinic to seek help with any psychological problem.

Mental illness can hit anyone at any time in their life. It is also very important for family members and friends of such patients to seek medical help at an early stage. Research has shown that if treatment starts at an early stage patients have been completely cured.

There have been many notable personalities who have overcome mental illness and have also helped in creating awareness about it. John Nash a famous mathematician suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He not only overcame this disease but later on won the Noble Prize. The story of his life has been portrayed in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” which won several Academy Awards. Mike Wallace, the popular journalist and host of CBS’s 60 minutes suffered from depression, he talked publicly about his ordeal to create awareness it. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will always be acknowledged for creating awareness about mental illness .In the year 2007 she was present along with David Wellstone (son of former Senator Paul Wellstone) to push Congress to pass legislation regarding mental health insurance. On March 5th, 2008 US house of Representatives passed the “Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equality Act of 2007” by a vote of 268-148. The late senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota presented the idea of such bill before his death in memory of his brother who suffered from mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in every 17 Americans is suffering from a serious mental illness; but less than a third of people with a mental illness receive treatment.

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