What the world needs now is more mental health professionals

For a nation so rich in natural resources, we are sorely lacking in others.

We need more mental health professionals, for instance, and we need them yesterday.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a fine thing to take stock of your mental health. But where do you go when your assessment tells you to seek help? Most likely, you go on a waiting list, especially if you are a child.

These alarming statistics from NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, tell a story of a nation in crisis:

  • Only 46.2% of U.S. adults with a diagnosed mental illness received treatment in 2020 
  • Just 64.5% of U.S. adults with a serious mental illness received treatment in 2020  
  • Half, 50.6%, of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016 

These are pre-pandemic statistics. Those numbers will increase exponentially when we survey children who have struggled through these past three years. According to the World Health Organization, diagnoses of anxiety and depression increased 25% in the first year of the pandemic alone.

We can change those numbers, but we need a plan.

How about government scholarships for students seeking degrees in mental health therapy?

Grants for licensed therapists to delve deeper into fields like trauma-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, de-radicalization therapy and others?

Teachers and guidance counselors who recognize specific skill sets among high school students and steer them into mental health-related fields?

Mandatory insurance coverage for a wider variety of mental health treatment?

A population that recognizes the critical value of therapists and holds them in high esteem?

The time to chat, post and tsk about mental health has long passed. We need to start doing something to improve it.

We are facing a mental health crisis in this country but we can do more than just recognize it. It’s long past time to direct resources to solving it. Let’s go.

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