Liz Szabo in the June 22 edition of USA Today has reported on the problems facing those who suffer from mental illness. “Stigma against the mentally ill is so powerful that it’s been codified for fifty years into federal law. Few outside the mental health care system even realize it,” she writes. Unequal Medicaid rules and prejudice are pervasive. Tina Murphy states, “There is no other area of medicine where the government is the source of the stigma.” A bill has been introduced recently to help those with mental health problems obtain short-term inpatient care. The Helping Families in Mental Health Care Crisis Act is now being debated in an uphill battle, but is this bill enough? Let’s think about this for a moment today.
Mental illness is a growing problem. Psychosis, anxiety, depression, and mental stress—including post-traumatic stress—are at all-time highs. The system is overburdened and is not meeting the needs of this growing population. Discussion of the cause of the increase is for another time and place. Needless to say, mental toxins are at an all-time high in our world. Our society would not tolerate someone with a heart attack, stroke, or cancer not being treated. Yet, if you have a mental illness, stand in line for a pill. Is this the right approach? Let’s think some more.
Pills might even be a major contributor to the problem. Robert Whitaker in his revolutionary book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, suggests that we need to re-think how we treat mental illness. He surmises that medication in many cases might be doing more harm than good. His book is filled with data and is evidenced-based. Remember: medicine and healing are very different processes. It has been estimated that 10 million people have serious mental illnesses, and one in six suffers from anxiety at some point. Many live in shame, cannot find work, and explore destructive solutions. Many more are silent because they understand what might happen if they “speak out” or ask for help. Let’s think about this: does this include me?
If the brain is stressed from mental illness, the entire body is affected. A disrupted brain chemistry creates chemicals that damage the body, not to mention the often poor decisions used just to cope. When someone “loses it,” let’s ask why. What is the real problem? Does the brain need rest, better nutrition, less toxins, healthy relationships, love? I think about the texts, “Create in me a new heart [a new brain].” As a man thinketh, so he is.” “Be anxious about nothing.” There are truths in the Bible to help mental illness. As I think about the growing problem Liz Szabo is writing about, I want to point people to lasting healing and let them know there is hope that is real and evidenced-based. Let’s think about this …