Here are some facts from NAMI regarding mental illness and treatment:
- Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
- The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
- With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.
- Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.
What needs to be said here is that adequate treatment is expensive. Even though people in the lower class have higher rates of mental illness, it is those who are in middle and upper class who utilize more mental health services. Without insurance, a bottle of Abilify is close to $500. We tell people to go get treatment, but it’s hard to go get treatment when one cannot pay for it. Obviously, stigma is still an issue that might deter someone from seeking help, and that may always be a factor. But what we as a country can do is to make treatment more accessible physically and financially.