Wednesday, August 31, 2016

No Stigma: Why More People are Getting Help Than Ever

Today more Americans are seeking out mental health treatment centers than ever before. While many people still cite the cost of treatment, as well as lack of insurance, as barriers to seeking help, they note the stigma which used to surround mental health treatment is less of an obstacle than it once was.

Less Stigma

Young people have more accepting views of mental health than older adults. In fact, a 2015 Harris Poll showed the majority of adults aged 18 to 25 viewed seeing a mental health professional as a sign of strength, not weakness.

When it comes to college students, their rates of anxiety and depression have soared in the past decade. Nearly 65% percent of those surveyed in the Harris Poll said they believe they have, or had, suffered from a mental illness. Students have more of an awareness to their problems because mental illness is discussed more openly today. Schools often address the problem, providing counseling and courses for treatment.

This year nearly half of all American households will have someone seek mental health treatment. The APA's Practice Directorate conducted a telephone survey of 1,000 randomly selected Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 and those Americans agreed the stigma about seeking mental health treatment is becoming less of an obstacle to getting treatment. In fact, 91% of those polled said they wouldn’t hesitate to consult or recommend mental health treatment if they or a family member needed it. The Practice Directorate conducts this poll every few years to gauge public sentiment regarding mental health care.

Nearly everyone surveyed, 97%, said they considered access to mental health treatment centers "important”. Only 30% of those surveyed said they would be concerned if anyone found out they were seeking mental health treatment, and only 20% said the stigma would keep them from seeking help.


The National Alliance of Mental Illness, or NAMI, says society is changing. In fact, in an article by Dr. Bernice Pescosolido called ‘The Stigma Complex’, published in The Annual Review of Sociology 2015, she says Americans are finally understanding that mental health issues are simply brain disorders and need not be stigmatized. She wrote that while society doesn’t change quickly, it will change, we just have to stay the course and continue to educate people and continue to try and raise awareness of these issues.

Seeking Treatment

More Americans are finding it easier to seek treatment because of the Affordable Care Act. To date the Obama Administration has provided the largest expansion of insurance coverage for behavioral health services; this has been made possible by the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. These acts have helped to increase access to mental health services for all segments of society. It has provided Americans who experience mental and substance use disorders with treatment and services that have transformed and revitalized their lives.

Sites such as ‘No More Stigma’ and ‘No Stigmas’ on social media are helping reduce the stigma, allowing people to come together and see mental health is no joke; these sites allow sufferers to know they are not alone and that there is no shame in mental health disorders.

Mental Health Treatment

There are a variety of treatment options available to those who need it. From mental health outpatient treatment centers where patients come and go, to mental health residential treatment centers where patients live for a specified period of time and receive supervised care around the clock; these residential treatment settings offer more intense benefits than multiple outpatient sessions each week. However, residential settings are less intensive and less restrictive than mental health inpatient treatment centers.

This is a blog post by Joyce Kim.

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