Report claims half the people in the USA bonkers

A story in, Half of Americans Will Suffer From Mental Health Woes, CDC Says, covers a new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that claims about ½ the people in the USA will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

About half of Americans will experience some form of mental health problem at some point in their life, a new government report warns, and more must be done to help them.

Given that the USA is at the epicenter of the current WORLDWIDE epidemic in psychiatric disability, I don’t really find this statistic all that surprising. Pharmaceutical companies must sell pharmaceutical products, and as a result of this advertising frenzy, the USA has become the leading example of a growing prescription drug culture.

Straight off I can see 3 obvious reasons for this epidemic that many mental health professionals are apparently fain to spot. 1. direct to consumer advertising (legal only in the USA and New Zealand) by drug manufacturers, 2. mental health screening programs (they have incredibly high false positive rates), and 3. patient advocacy group anti-stigma campaigns (when having a “mental illness” becomes cool and trendy, there will be more people claiming to have one.).

There are “unacceptably high levels of mental illness in the United States,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC. “Essentially, about 25 percent of adult Americans reported having a mental illness in the previous year. In addition to the high level, we were surprised by the cost associated with that — we estimated about $300 billion in 2002.

Did you get that! About ¼ of the adult population of the USA reported having a “mental illness” last year. They are also talking costs, estimated at $300,000,000,000. Well, I know that so-called “serious mental illness”, lifelong disability, can be very expensive. Add to it doctor visits for the psychiatric equivalent of the common cold, and you’re still talking money down the tubes.

“Mental illness is frequently seen as a moral issue or an issue of weakness,” Arias explained. “It is a condition no different from cancer or other chronic diseases. People need to accept the difficulties they are having and avail themselves of the resources that are available.”

Ileana Arias says a lot of things on this subject in this article, and every time she says something, I feel like cracking up. If she’s saying that ½ the people in the USA are going to have a brain disease, I think she must be as batty as some of the people psychiatry treats. More to the point, if ½ the people in the USA will have “mental illness” at some point in their lives, that “mental illness” has more to do with a lapse in moral fortitude and strength of character than it does with any inheritable disease.

The report says 5 % of the nation’s population was labeled “seriously mentally ill”, that is, unable to function, at some point last year. That would be about my estimate, too. This figure I expect to climb even further in the future.

The question I have to ask is what is making the USA such a difficult country to live in? When this article claims 8.4 million people had suicidal thoughts last year. Shrug. I imagine the real figure to be a bit higher. 2.2 million made plans to kill themselves, and 1 million attempted suicide. Attempting suicide, unlike succeeding, will get anyone a psychiatric label. This article doesn’t explain how we make this country a more livable place for the vast majority of people who inhabit it, and that, I think, is the question you have to ask before you can expect the emotional turmoil rate to go down.

The absolutely amazing thing is you’ve got this report saying 50 % of the people in the USA will experience mental health issues during their lifetimes, and this shrink in the same article says under-diagnosis and under-treatment is a big problem! Uh, I don’t think so. Remember with nostalgia the silent majority then, and welcome the new Mad Majority. Half of the people of the USA is two thirds of the way to 75 % of the people in the USA. I guess our movement must be making progress.