As reported in The LA Times in a story with the heading, Young people’s disabilities due in large part to psychiatric disorders, study finds, the number 1 cause of disability among young people worldwide is reported to be “in the mind”, or with what could perhaps be more aptly called growing up disorder. (Some people even go so far as to call it “not growing up disorder”.)
For young people all over the world, the most prevalent causes of disability are in the mind. For youth, neuropsychiatric disorders including major depression and alcohol use comprise 45% of the disability burden among young people from 10 to 24 years old, according to a study published online Monday in the Lancet. That’s about four times as much as that caused by unintentional injuries (12%) and infectious and parasitic diseases (10%).
You have to do a little reading between the lines when it comes to arriving at any projected remedy to this rapidly escalating problem.
Young people’s health tends to be neglected when talking about global public health issues because they’re perceived as healthy, the authors point out. But catching problems earlier in life can improve longevity and quality of life over the long term.
“Although risk factors and the lifestyles that young people adopt might not affect their health during this period, they can have a substantial effect in later life and can potentially affect the health of future generations,” the authors write. “For example, high patterns of physical activity that are adopted during youth and sustained thereafter are thought to have protective effects against the onset of cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes.”
Problem! The drugs most commonly used to treat so called “serious mental illness” can cause a metabolic syndrome that greatly increases the chance of developing a cariovascular disease and diabetes. A big danger here is that by blindly pursuing standard psychiatric practice the population of young mentally disabled people will increase rather than decline.
The article, Helping mentally ill go back to work a win for all, an opinion piece in The Australian about how the face of disability there is changing from elderly people suffering from musculoskeltal conditions to young people with psychiatric labels, concludes by pointing to more realistic solutions to this problem.
But as the number of people with psychological conditions on disability pensions increases, and the age profile of disability pensioners shifts, we will need to look at more fundamental ways to keep relatively young people with a disability off welfare and in the workforce.
I don’t know how it works in Australia, but in the USA disability benefits and welfare benefits are not synonymous. The idea is to get people off Social Security Disability Income benefits as well. Another snag in this outlook is that people are not supposed to receive SSDI unless they suffer from a permanent disability. We have perception and definitional confusions here that must be resolved before we can affect a reasonable solution to this shortcoming. A person who suffered from permanent disabilities would by definition be excluded from the workforce. This is a particularly trying problem as the social security bureaucracy expects people to prove disability in order to receive benefits. Getting off benefits is not a possibility allowed for by this bureaucracy. I suggest that we need to loosen our definitions in the interests of accurately accessing reality, and of reintegrating people back into the workforce, and back into the community at large.
For many people with mental illness, the disability pension as a one-way street with few requirements and little help to get back into the workforce is simply not good enough.
The exact same statement could be made about people with psychiatric labels and SSDI benefits in the USA. It is my fear that such financial dependence, as shown by the preceding article and study, is growing increasingly common on a global scale.
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