As much as most people don’t like to admit it, we all suffer from some level of mental health issue. In a society that stresses, depresses and then ignores the elephant in the room, we hate to acknowledge any weakness and illness. These mental health issues can be short term, long term, minor inconveniences or major crises. They don’t manifest until they begin affecting ones daily living – or another person’s daily living – and usually only after the rationalization and denial processes have begun to wane.
These factors combine with the general public’s perception that mental health, and addiction in particular, are moral failings, and not really objective disease states. This perfect storm of misunderstanding results in the lack of proper care and treatment of these medical conditions. People who have active, untreated addiction and mental health issues can not get the assistance they need. There are too few treatment providers, and too few trained professionals available even when treatment is located.
Part of this is a result of stigma. People don’t understand mental health disorders, so they ignore them as much as possible. Part of it is a result of society allowing 12 step programs to operate as the full standard of care for too many years. The 12 steps, as a free, unorganized, form of treatment have saved more lives than any similar program. Sure, there are detractors, bit none with any accurate or accountable data. AA and other 12 step programs were the “go to” treatment for so many years that respectable formal medical care was an afterthought.
More money needs to be spent on the treatment field for all mental health disorders. New sources of funding need to be developed. A great example is money and other assets recovered from drug dealer sting operations. After all, this money was originally spent by the addict and mental health sufferer in the first place. Several law enforcement leaders have suggested that they have recovered so much money that they can’t spend it all, and would welcome a formal plan to distribute the money to the appropriate channels that can “make whole” the individual who gave it to the dealers in the first place.