We’re not listening to people that are asking for help with Mental Health the way we think we are.
Throughout the last 10–15 years Americans have seen a drastic change in how mental health is discussed. Unlike previous decades, where mental health issues were met with stigma, dangerous procedures, and outright denial, this generation is beginning to see companies, family, friends, and society, in general, become more accepting of mental health issues. We’re seeing athletes take breaks to address their mental health, celebrities are discussing struggles with depression, anxiety, etc. openly, and Millenials and Gen Z are absolute pros at using dark humor to talk about mental health with their friends.
Going to see a therapist is encouraged now. Get your help, get healthy, we’re here for it.
Small problem, mental health care is still widely inaccessible to a wide variety of people.
After finishing graduate school, I thought it might be time for me to seek out some help and assistance for my mental health. I mean, I always struggled with my mental health, and if that wasn't enough I had just completed graduate school during a global pandemic. So let's just say, I was a little stressed. I am very privileged in that I am still on my parent's health insurance (for like six more days, but that’s another issue). But, to my shock, my first visit would be 200 dollars.
As Randy Jackson would say “Yeah, thats gonna be a no from me, dog”.
I was still working on getting a job after graduate school, so I didn’t really have 200 dollars just like, chilling, waiting to be spent.
I’ve dealt with mental health issues my whole life, I have developed good coping skills, I was going to be okay. But, at the risk of sounding too Sex and The City, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the other people that this has impacted.
What if someone is in a crisis? What if they didn’t have these coping skills? What if they didn’t have a partner and family to help through the rough patches?
So many people are crying out for help and we as a society aren’t ignoring them, we’re telling them to go get help. But, while telling them to go get the help we’re not listening to what they need, and that hurts just as much as the stigma.
We’re not listening to how some people might have to choose between mental health services and rent. We’re not listening to the people that can’t find a therapist that can relate to them or one that understands how poverty, racism, sexism and so many other issues impact their mental health.
So sure, we can say that our society has become more accepting of mental health issues, but are we actually showing any concern? Any real passion for building a system that people can afford to get help from or feel comfortable opening themselves up to?
Until we address the complete lack of accessibility to mental health care our society can’t say we’re doing any better to address it. We’re doing just as bad, we just painted a pretty color over it to hide the cracks.