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The Presidential Debate does not mention Mental Health

October 5, 2012

Last night the Presidential debate took place. As usual many controversies were debated and each candidate took a stance on each issue. One very important issue however was never addressed.  The issue of mental health was completely absent from the conversation. The absence of this issue was not only neglectful and stigmatizing to millions of people who suffer or know someone who suffers from mental illness, but it also left many American’s anxious about mental health policies and controversies. Voters deserve to be aware of future Presidential opinions surrounding mental health. Because mental health concerns millions of American’s it was quite shocking that it was never mentioned.

The absence of mental health from the debate was worrisome because mental health has become increasingly important to understand. Within the last decade that amount of people being diagnosed with some type of mental disorder has greatly increased and more and more people are taking drugs for these disorders. Because of these factors as well as many others, it is important for everyone to become involved in these issues. It can often be difficult to distinguish between an actual mental disorder and symptoms stemming from distress, however in order to relieve suffering we must try to do so. Within our society there are many different factors that can account for mental illness. Because our economy is currently suffering, many people are finding themselves unemployed and thus in distress.  There seems to be a correlation between unemployment rates and rates of mental illness. “Nationally, the unemployment rate is 8.3 percent. Unemployed workers are four times as likely to experience mental health problems—at a time when the supply of mental health services has decreased because of state budget cuts and squeezes on Medicaid” (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Because of the increase in depression disorders within the last decade we must ask ourselves, are depression rates increasing due to mental illness or distress? Because the concepts surrounding mental illness are often embedded within larger society, you would expect that potential Presidents would want to take a stance and communicate their opinions concerning mental illness.

Not only does the connection between unemployment rates and mental health need to be discussed and explored but the mental health needs of millions of others are not being met and these issues also need to be addressed. For instance, veterans of war often suffer from a profound amount of distress once returning home. It is incredibly important that services, medications and insurance are provided to those in need. Veterans have experienced many hardships and often suffer the rest of their lives. Proper attention needs to be given to those who suffer from mental illness and the absence of these issues from the Presidential debate shows a lack of care for these individuals. Voters want to know that the future President will properly care for his people and this debate did not show that because of the absence of mental health.

One Comment leave one →
  1. connor backlund permalink
    October 5, 2012 6:05 pm

    It is indeed a shame that our country often brushes the issue of mental health under the rug. Rather it’s an issue that when is ignored is, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. People in the U.S., it seems, have always had a difficult time discussing the issues of mental health, whether it’s a family member who suffers, or themselves. One would think that with a fluctuating/ stagnant economy, large amounts of soldiers returning from warfare, and just overall uncertainty for the future, a developed nation such as the United States would be able to help raise awareness and begin to identify mental illnesses as something of an epidemic. But as you stated, large budget cuts have depleted state resources to be able to bring the help that many need and always the issue of health insurance not being more helpful in its nature.
    I find it interesting that with the many ‘random’ and horrific shootings that this nation has experienced in the last ten years, the media has time and again failed to present the root of the issue. According to the media, these shootings aren’t a case of a societal issue but rather an individual problem. Often the media outlets portray the shooters as ‘just a few bad apples’ when really they are individuals apart of a larger population of the mentally ill that aren’t receiving the care they need. They are somehow excluded from these staggering statistics of people who suffer from a mental illness. Regardless, awareness needs to be brought forward, and an aggressive policy needs to be in place to ensure treatment, not just diagnosing. The issue can only be made aware of by top-down authority. That is, politicians, community leaders, and even celebrities need to be more proactive in spreading awareness for treatment. The president and his administration are generally an acceptable place to start as well.

    Connor Backlund

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