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Poor Mental Health is a Top-Tier Public Health Threat

Apr 8, 2024

Concerns over unmet mental health needs are beginning to generate essential conversations within the treatment community. As leading advocates for treatment for both mental health disorders and substance use disorders, we at Hanley Foundation would like to share what these studies revealed and how we’re prepared to respond as an organization.

Based on findings from the recent Axios-Ipsos American Health Index, there’s a significant shift in public perception regarding the paramount importance of addressing poor mental health. The report’s findings underscore a concerning trend: nearly nine out of 10 individuals perceive mental health challenges as a significant societal threat, surpassing concerns about access to firearms, cancer, or even COVID-19. In the age group of 18-29, mental health emerges as a primary concern, with 22% of respondents identifying it as the top threat, alongside opioids (19%) and obesity (20%). Similarly, one in five individuals aged 30-49 ranks mental health as the foremost threat, equaling obesity (19%) and trailing opioids (26%). Conversely, among those aged 65 and above, only 10% view mental health issues as the number one public health threat, indicating a notable generational difference in perception.

As a second indicator of mental health in the United States, the latest World Happiness Report reveals that the country has hit an all-time low ranking. The United States dropped eight positions to 23rd, placing it just behind the United Kingdom, Slovenia, and the United Arab Emirates. When comparing the United States to nearby Western nations based on happiness rankings, it falls behind several countries. The US ranks 23rd out of the top 25 happiest countries, suggesting room for improvement in overall well-being compared to nearby nations like Canada, which ranks 15th. Gallup, provider of data for the World Happiness Report, attributes the US’s significant decline to young Americans feeling increasingly discontented. Lara Aknin, a report editor, notes that today’s youth express diminished social support, heightened stress, and dissatisfaction with living conditions, alongside decreased confidence in government and heightened perceptions of corruption.

This shift highlights the critical need for comprehensive strategies addressing mental health and substance use disorders within public health initiatives.

As professionals in addiction science, Hanley recognizes the integral link between mental health struggles and substance use disorders, underscoring the urgency for targeted interventions and holistic support systems to mitigate these escalating public health concerns.

 Watch Dr. John Dyben talk about this topic on WPEC News 12.

Expertise in comorbidity—the simultaneous or sequential occurrence of two or more disorders, a common phenomenon observed notably in substance use and mental health conditions—is essential to address the intricate interactions between these disorders and comprehensive treatment approaches. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there’s a disparity between those affected by co-occurring mental and substance use disorders and those who receive treatment: 7.7 million adults experience both, with no clear causality. Of the 20.3 million adults with substance use disorders, 37.9% also had mental illnesses, while 18.2% of the 42.1 million adults with mental illness had substance use disorders. However, treatment access remains inadequate:

• 52.5% received neither mental health nor substance use treatment.
• 34.5% received mental health care only.
• 9.1% received both.
• 3.9% received substance use treatment alone.

Hanley Foundation aims to eliminate barriers hindering access to care for individuals with co-occurring disorders.

Among adults who did not receive mental health care, reasons cited by NIDA included 52.2% citing affordability, 23.8% lacking knowledge of treatment resources, 23.0% believing they could manage without treatment, 13.6% fearing commitment, 12.4% worrying about community perception, 11.1% doubting treatment efficacy, 10.6% facing time constraints, and 10.1% expressing confidentiality concerns. Among adults with co-occurring disorders who did not receive substance use care, the primary reasons included not feeling ready to cease substance use (38.4%), lack of health insurance leading to inability to afford treatment costs (35.1%), concern about negative community perceptions (13.1%), fear of negative job impacts (13.0%), lack of knowledge about treatment resources (11.5%), inadequate insurance coverage for treatment costs (9.9%), and inability to find a program offering the needed treatment type (9.0%).

Navigating the intricacies of mental health disorders requires a holistic approach, which Hanley Foundation in Florida offers through integrated treatment at Hanley Center and Headwaters. Recognizing the interconnected nature of mental health and substance use disorders, our comprehensive programs cater to individual needs. Whether mental health challenges precede substance abuse or emerge thereafter, our services encompass evidence-based therapy, medical care including detoxification services, psychiatric services, ongoing care, case management, family education, life skills training, recovery support, and personalized continuing care planning.

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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