Obama hosts National Conference on Mental Health

Gilana Levavi('14)/ Eastside Opinions Editor

On June 3, President Obama held a National Conference on Mental Health.  The purpose of the conference was, as the president put it, to “bring mental illness out of the shadows.” The day-long event brought together health care professionals, faith leaders, veteran advocates, individuals personally affected by mental illness and others in an attempt to bring conversations about mental health to national prominence. To watch Obama’s speech, click here.

That day, the White House also launched mentalhealth.gov, which contains a plethora of resources.

“The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it.  And there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love.  We’ve got to get rid of that embarrassment; we’ve got to get rid of that stigma,” said Obama.

The president deserves much praise for trying to bring attention to this issue. Unfortunately, though, our society has a very long way to go in eliminating the virulent stigma that surrounds mental health. Changing attitudes toward something like mental health requires a change in some of the most fundamental aspects of American culture, and changing the pervasive culture of a nation is usually a long, arduous process. Hopefully Obama’s efforts will make at least a small difference.

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Facts and statistics from mentalhealth.gov:

-Only 38% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment.

-People with severe mental illness are 10 times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than people who do not suffer from mental illness.

-Only 3%-5% of violent crime can be attributed to individuals living with a mental illness.

-In 2011:
>One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue.
>One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression.
>One in 20 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

For more facts, click here.