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Prevention Of Mental Illness Policies Essay

1684 words - 7 pages

Mental illness is a preventable and treatable illness that is experienced by a large number of people worldwide, but disproportionately affects people of color and individuals in poverty. Mental illness does not just affect those who are diagnosed with a mental illness but it also has an impact on those around the individual, including family and friends. However, the impact does not stop there; it affects all of society economically and potentially socially. An estimated 450 million people suffer from mental illness worldwide; as well as one in four people will experience one or more mental illnesses in their lifetime (World Health Organization, 2007). This means that a quarter (25%) of ...view middle of the document...

These two definitions describe mental health in broad terms of a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life.
How does this problem affect vulnerable populations?
Mental illness disproportionately affects people in vulnerable populations, specifically ethnic and racial minorities, low-income individuals, individuals without insurance, and youth. People of color are disproportionately affected by mental illness for many possible reasons including inability to speak English, stigma, costs, comorbidities of diseases, and incarceration (Prim et al., 2010, p. 1). There are also many social determinants of health that can cause upstream and downstream effects (Braveman, Egerter, & Williams, 2011, p. 383). The upstream factors would be things like race, socioeconomic status, minority status, and so on which plays the direct role in health outcomes; whereas downstream refers to the results of those upstream factors like the accessibility and quality of health care one might receive because of one’s race or status (Braveman et al., 2011, p. 383). Research has shown that there is a direct link between one’s social status in terms of educational attainment, income, geographic location, and minority status with their health status. For example someone who makes less money, has a high school degree or less, and is a minority will most likely have worse health. Another important factor is the affect of racism on health. Racism not only refers to the blatant forms of discrimination but also to those deep-rooted into the structure of society and organizations. This affects vulnerable populations on many levels. Research shows that African American and Latino populations are more likely to live in disadvantaged neighbors which subsequently have worse schools which can lead to lower educational attainment as well as experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety from living in dangerous neighborhoods (Braveman et al., 2011, p.387). Blatant discrimination as well as discrimination that is not as obvious, such as structural discrimination, has implications on one’s level of stress, anxiety, depression, and a skewed view of one’s self, which puts both a burden on children and adults’ mental health (Braveman et al., 2011, p. 387). Some of the strongest links are between one’s childhood experiences and growing up disadvantaged, showing that these children can have a cognitive and physical delay without proper intervention causing a lifetime of ill effects (Braveman et al., 2011, p. 388).
What statistics are available to describe the problem?
It is estimated that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease burden worldwide (World Health Organization, 2011, p. 1). In addition to this, untreated mental illness accounts for 13% of total cost of global disease, as well as an estimated 76% to 85% of people worldwide with serious mental illness do not receive care in low- to middle-income countries. 35% to 50% of people in high-income...

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