Has Amer­ica Gone Crazy?

Riverbank News - - PERSPECTIVE - Glenn Mollette

Has Amer­ica sim­ply gone crazy? We never want to think that we are a bit crazy or that peo­ple we love are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing crazi­ness but it is re­al­ity. Amer­ica has an over­whelm­ing prob­lem with crazi­ness or I should say men­tal health is­sues.

Over a 12-month pe­riod, 27 per­cent of adults in the U.S. will ex­pe­ri­ence some sort of men­tal health dis­or­der, mak­ing the U.S. the coun­try with the high­est preva­lence. Men­tal health dis­or­ders in­clude mood dis­or­ders, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders, at­ten­tion deficit/hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der, and sub­stance abuse. Over one’s en­tire life­time, the average Amer­i­can has a 47.4 per­cent chance of hav­ing some kind of men­tal health dis­or­der. Yes, that’s al­most one in two. The pro­jected life­time preva­lence is even higher: for peo­ple who reach age 75 it is 55 per­cent. World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion data does not take into ac­count eat­ing dis­or­ders, per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders, and schizophre­nia; the in­ci­dence of these dis­or­ders to­gether is about 15 per­cent in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to the National In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health.

The in­ci­dence of men­tal health dis­or­ders varies widely across the globe, and de­ter­min­ing the pat­terns is tricky. Af­ter the U.S., Ukraine, Colom­bia, New Zealand, Le­banon, and France have the next high­est rates of men­tal health dis­or­ders of any kind, all fall­ing be­tween 18.9 per­cent and 21.4 per­cent in a 12-month pe­riod. Ja­pan, the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China, Nige­ria, and Is­rael have the low­est rates (be­tween 6.0 per­cent and 7.4 per­cent), es­pe­cially for de­pres­sion. For sub­stance abuse, the U.S. is up there, but not the high­est: We are topped by South Africa and Ukraine. As with the U.S., when you look at life­time preva­lence in any coun­try, the risk for any dis­or­der goes way up.

De­spite on­go­ing re­search, the pre­dic­tors of men­tal health dis­or­ders are still eva­sive, even for the most com­mon, like de­pres­sion. While a na­tion’s wealth fac­tor would seem to have an im­pact, it’s clear from the data that the re­la­tion­ship is com­plex. Ron Kessler, Ph.D., the Har­vard re­searcher who headed much of the WHO’s men­tal health re­search, says that by and large peo­ple in less-de­vel­oped coun­tries are less de­pressed: Af­ter all, he says, when you’re lit­er­ally try­ing to sur­vive, who has time for de­pres­sion? Amer­i­cans, on the other hand, many of whom lead rel­a­tively com­fort­able lives; blow other na­tions away in the de­pres­sion fac­tor, lead­ing some to sug­gest that de­pres­sion is a “lux­ury dis­or­der.”

There is a zero cure for men­tal health is­sues. How­ever, here are some sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ment. Have a daily sched­ule. Get up and go to bed rou­tinely. Get ad­e­quate sleep but you don’t need more than seven to eight hours. En­gage in mean­ing­ful ac­tiv­ity daily. Work a job. Work in a gar­den. Clean your house. Mow grass. Pull weeds. Go to school. Have some type of daily ex­er­cise. Breaking a lit­tle sweat ev­ery day is healthy. En­gage in mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships at church, a club, work or with friends and fam­ily. We all need real peo­ple in our lives. Limit your tech­nol­ogy, tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia time. Too much can drain and de­press you.

If you have men­tal ill­ness or fam­ily mem­bers suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness get it out on the table and start talk­ing about cop­ing, a strate­gic plan, coun­sel­ing and work­ing to­gether to make life man­age­able. Ig­nor­ing it only re­sults in ev­ery­body go­ing crazy.

(Cred­its: World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and The At­lantic.)

Dr. Glenn Mollette is Pres­i­dent of New­burgh The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, New­burgh, In­di­ana and his syn­di­cated col­umn is read in all 50 states. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor and not nec­es­sar­ily those of this pa­per or its cor­po­rate own­er­ship.

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