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In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a whole different health emergency has emerged – the mental health crisis. According to recent data, almost 22% of adults in the US have at least one mental health issue. 

Addressing the increase in mental health cases

According to a recent study by the CDC, there has been a significant rise in challenging mental health cases in 2020-2021 compared to the past two decades.

Approximately one-quarter of the US population currently struggles with some form of mental health issue.

What the data says

Data from the 2023 State of Mental Health in America report reports the following:

  • 21% of adults – roughly 50 million Americans – have a mental illness
  • Over 12 million (4.8%) report “serious” cases and 55% of these people (over 28 million people) received no treatment.
  • 15% of adults had a substance abuse disorder in the past year, and 93.5% of them received no treatment.
  • 2.7 million adolescents suffer from “major depression”
  • 16% of adolescents reported “at least one major depressive episode” in the past year.
  • 60% of adolescents with major depression did not receive any mental health treatment.

Mental health stigma

Financial limitations and stigma pose significant barriers to mental health treatment, which can exacerbate isolation and hopelessness. That said, ending the stigma can help tackle the mental health crisis. 

A 2022 study found that education can play a significant role in ending stigma. Individuals who participated in a mental health education course reported a change in their awareness of mental health issues. The course helped them better understand mental health issues, thereby improving attitudes and awareness and reducing stigma.

Mental Health

Mental Health Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Ending the stigma of mental illness and providing access to mental healthcare is critical. But what else can be done to help people struggling with their mental health right now and potentially save thousands of lives every year?

Prevention and Management Techniques

With alarming mental health statistics, it is important to explore effective strategies that can make a difference.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  (CBT)

CBT is a structured and goal-oriented therapeutic approach that centers around the connections among an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. It can be utilized to rectify negative thought patterns and behaviors in individuals who may be susceptible to experiencing severe emotional distress. 

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions influence our emotions and behaviors. As such, by changing negative or unhelpful thought patterns, we can effectively change our emotions and behaviors.

What does the research say?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life.” 

This means that CBT can be life-changing – and life-saving – for people with mental health problems, especially the 55% who currently receive no help at all.

The Journal of Affective Disorders published a review in 2022 that explored the impact of CBT on complex mental health conditions. The study found that CBT effectively treated depression, anxiety-related disorders, and other mental disorders. Additionally, CBT   also prevented various forms of mental illness. 

The review concluded that health professionals can utilize CBT to promote well-being and prevent radical emotional issues.

Innovative technologies

Increasing accessibility to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) through mobile devices for individuals would greatly contribute to improving mental well-being. 

A 2023 study published in JMIR Publications found that CTB delivered through a mobile app, Sensa, has the same elements as traditional CBT training. It also allows users to tailor their own experience to fit their schedule and pace. It should be noted that the authors of this particular study are employees at Kilo Health, which manufactures the app.

Takeaway 

Monisha Vasa, M.D., a psychiatrist and mindfulness practitioner, reminds us that taking care of our mental wellness takes commitment and effort. 

She advises that we establish healthy lifestyles through mindful eating and exercise and coping well with stress (or minimizing stress whenever possible). She also suggests that we have healthy hobbies, develop social relationships, and spend time outdoors and in nature. 

Dr. Vasa adds that it is also important to seek care with mental health professionals if you think you might be struggling with depression, or anxiety, or just need more support. 

“Finally, it is important for all of us to be there for one another. Looking after our friends and family, being kind to strangers, and doing our part to maintain kind and compassionate communities can also go a long way.”

Of course, you cannot exercise or sleep away from mental illness. However, consistent good habits can go a long way toward maintaining mental well-being and reducing stress, maybe, just like Covid-19, the mental health emergency could be declared over.

References

Matthew F. Garnett and and Sally C. Curtin, M.A. (2023). Suicide Mortality in the United States, 2001–2021. (464). 
Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. (October 2022). “The State of Mental Health in America 2023” Mental Health America, Alexandria VA.
Shim YR, Eaker R, Park J. Mental Health Education, Awareness and Stigma regarding Mental Illness among College Students. J Ment Health Clin Psychol (2022) 6(2): 6-15
Valinskas, S., Nakrys, M., Aleknavicius, K., & Jonusas, J. (2023). Sensa Mobile App for Managing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms: Pilot Cohort Study. JMIR formative research7, e40671. https://doi.org/10.2196/40671
Wu, H., Lu, L., Qian, Y., Jin, X.-H., Yu, H.-R., Du, L., Fu, X.-L., Zhu, B. and Chen, H.-L. (2022). The significance of cognitive-behavioral therapy on suicide: An umbrella review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 317, pp.142–148. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.08.067.
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Daniel Reche

Em Sloane

Em Sloane

I am an introverted nature lover, and long time contributor to LongevityLive.com. My role is to publish the information in a consumer friendly format, which we receive on the latest medical news, press releases and general information on the latest longevity related research findings.

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