One of the biggest problems with people coping with mental health problems is their decision to seek assistance or treatment. According to the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum, mental illnesses are the leading causes of disability adjusted life years. In addition, it is the biggest economic burden of any health issue in the world at $2.5 trillion dollars in 2010. To top that off, out of the 450 million people in the world suffering from mental health conditions, around 60% do not seek any treatment. That is a shocking number, but what is to blame?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Stigma of mental illness is labeled as the biggest barrier to seeking mental health care. “Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their symptoms because our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues over physical conditions” said Nikki Massey-Hastings, Psy.D. According to a recent study, individuals with mental illnesses receive fewer medical services than persons with similar conditions who do not have mental illnesses. The roles and influences of support systems or reference groups in helping to facilitate help seeking is essential information that needs to be further examined.
On the other hand, another influential reason that such a huge part of the population does not seek treatment is due to cost. In addition to this stigma, people already feel very uncomfortable seeking someone for help. In an interview with Fox Business, Tamara Walker, director of operations at Lasting Recovery (a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction in San Diego) states that “an hour therapy session can cost between $90 and $250. If you are looking at psychiatry, an assessment can be $400 for only two hours.” Since mental health is such an economic burden, many people refuse to talk to other people about their problems. Many people are waiting until symptoms become too severe and this is causing much more problems.
Due to the stigmas and cost of seeking mental health treatments, something needs to be done to make information much more accessible to the general public. Since this condition has the greatest impact on the length of someone’s life, new considerations should be made about cost and help. Mental illnesses are a very serious condition and no one should feel afraid of seeking someone else. If you or anyone else is feeling “lost” or not like their normal selves, you should seek assistance despite the costs or stigma of this condition. While research is still being conducted on these factors, something needs to be done about the difficulty people face just to talk to someone about their emotions.