What is it like to have a serious mental illness in the U.S. today?
There are over 45-million people in the United States living with mental illness and in that group, 11-million are living with a serious mental illness. A serious mental illness refers to the constellation of mental health challenges that persist and interfere in a person’s life to the point of disrupting the normal flow of their work, education, relationships, and future prospects.
These 11-million individuals - as if they did not have a large enough burden to bear - contend with a greatly increased risk of physical health issues and tend to pass away 25 years sooner than the average adult. Twenty-five years is an almost unbelievable number - and the reason: preventable physical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Why and how do these individuals so often fall through the cracks of our healthcare system?
One major reason: our healthcare system in the United States is not designed to support the integrative and long-term treatment approaches these individuals need. These individuals are not even receiving the basic primary care to address issues such as diabetes, liver disease, or heart disease.
Our homeless shelters and prisons are where many of these individuals end up at one time or another in their lives. Over 25% of those in homeless shelters and over 20% of those in our prisons live with a serious mental illness. More often than not, these are not friendly places for someone dealing with a mental health crisis. People with mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the average adult. The societal deck is stacked against our most vulnerable citizens.
These individuals often become estranged from family members, lose their jobs, and lose their sense of self. One's sense of self - one's autonomy, purpose, and role in life - is a very personal and priceless aspect of being human. Once you are labeled with a diagnosis such as schizophrenia, that diagnosis enters the room and speaks on your behalf before you even get there. It steals your individuality.
These challenging facts - hard for anyone to read and take in - is why Virgil Stucker and Associates are here.
By partnering with you and your loved ones we can help empower you to make the most informed decision for your health and wellbeing going forward. We are here to guide families and individuals down a path of knowledge and autonomy, helping you avoid some of the possible dangers ahead such as inadequate treatment, lack of continuity of care, and lack of attention to not just mental but physical issues as well. We believe in a healthy future for those with serious mental illness and we aim to work towards that future one individual at a time.