Mental Health and the Brain: Starting Context
Mental Health and the Brain:
"Mental health" is a significant matter of general concern, both in the United States and world-wide, one for which biological perspectives are relevant. While there seem to be some areas of convergence in extensive and diverse continuing discussions of "mental health," there are also areas of divergence, and there has been to date a noteworthy failure to reach the kind of consensus understanding, either nationally or internationally, that yields wide-spread and effective institutional and cultural change. This suggests a need to have additional perspectives added to the mix. As you browse through the materials below, reflect on which ones you strongly resonate with out of your own personal experiences, which ones you don't, and why. Think too about ways in which your own personal experiences might provide new and distinctive contributions to the ongoing conversations here and elsewhere. Put your thoughts in the on-line forum below.
"Promoting mental health for all Americans will require scientific know-how but, even more importantly, a societal resolve that we will make the needed investment. The investment does not call for massive budgets; rather, it calls for the willingness of each of us to educate ourselves and others about mental health and mental illness, and thus to confront the attitudes, fear, and misunderstanding that remain as barriers before us."
"Culture and society play pivotal roles in mental health, mental illness, and mental health services ... clinicians view symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments in ways that sometimes diverge from their clients' views, especially when the cultural backgrounds of the consumer and provider are dissimilar."
"... the mental health delivery system is fragmented and in disarray ... lead[ing] to unnecessary and costly disability, homelessness, school failure and incarceration ... The time has long passed for yet another piecemeal approach to mental health reform. Instead, the Commission recommends a fundamental transformation of the Nation's approach to mental health care."
"Every year up to 30% of the population worldwide will suffer from some form of mental disorder, and at least two-thirds of those receive inadequate or no treatment, even in countries with the best resources."
"Barriers to effective treatment of mental illness include lack of recognition of the seriousness of mental illness and lack of understanding about the benefits of services. Policy makers, insurance companies, health and labour policies, and the public at large - all discriminate between physical and mental problems."
"Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down ... Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing."
"All of us live with these daily threats to our 'mental health.' Many of us also face additional challenges that test us and put our mental health at risk ... The good news is -- we have the knowledge and experience now about what works for good mental health." To make mental health a national priority, we need you to:
- Raise the profile of mental health in the 2008 presidential, gubernatorial and congressional elections;
- Help educate the candidates about the importance of mental health and the treatment that works; and
- Above all else, vote for the candidates who will deliver mental health reforms."
"The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure ... For the Institute to continue fulfilling this vital public health mission, it must foster innovative thinking and ensure that a full array of novel scientific perspectives are used to further discovery in the evolving science of brain, behavior, and experience."
"Too often, traditional mental health services keep clients stuck in the system, keeping people from having choices about their lives. The emphasis on medical solutions, especially psychiatric drugs, has become problematic for many. We are seeking new ways of taking charge of our lives, new answers to finding our way out of the mental health system, new roads to our own recovery."