Mental Health Crisis Of ‘Monumental Suffering’ Is Worldwide, Says the Lancet Commission

Suicides and opioid deaths are at all-time highs while treatment and intervention are too low.

Female patient cries with face in hands between doctor and caring male.
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Suicides and opioid deaths are at all-time highs while treatment and intervention are too low.

In light of National Mental Illness Awareness Week, which runs from October 7 to October 13, and World Mental Health Day on October 10, the Guardian reported Tuesday that the Lancet Commission has published a study stating that the entire world seems to be in a mental health crisis. Rates of suicides and deaths from addiction are high worldwide and they are not receiving the individualized mental health treatment they require. Instead, the deaths are being attributed to means outside mental illness, like “accidents” and simple uninformed usage of drugs.

The Lancet Commission is a gathering of 28 experts from around the world assembled to study the status of mental health and its care around the world, says the Guardian. Now, the Lancet Commission has determined a “collective failure to respond to this global health crisis.” The report states that despite studies and knowledge ever-increasing in the area of mental health, treatment options are still pitiful compared to that of physical health treatment.

“The quality of mental health services is routinely worse than the quality of those for physical health,” states Lancet’s report.

The Lancet Commission claims that governments are not doing enough to solve mental health issues, either. This is a worldwide problem that leaves no country untouched, the Guardian says. The report recommends that governments invest more money in mental health care. Lancet claims that the lives of 13.5 million people could be saved worldwide each year if underlying mental health causes of those deaths could be identified and treated successfully.

“Government investment and development assistance for mental health remain pitifully small,” the Lancet Commission says.

Let’s take a look at how America is handling mental health care today. Mental Health America (MHA) reported in February how President Trump’s budget changes would affect mental health care. This was after Trump vowed to improve the treatment of mental health care in response to a school shooting. While Trump’s budget changes included some new funds being brought into certain aspects of mental health care, it also included the removal of some large funds that previously served mental health care tremendously.

While the budget includes $15 million for a new Assertive Community Treatment for the severely mentally ill, it also reduces funds for substance abuse and mental health treatment programs by about $600 million. In a world that is now labeled as in “mental health crisis,” the reduction of $600 million in funds seems to be the opposite action from what the Lancet Commission would recommend. Another addition to the budget includes a $10 million allotment spread over five years to combat severe mental illness and opioid addiction.

The Trump budget changes increased dependence on the criminal justice system while decreasing funds going into mental health and addiction treatment programs.