Source: Faith and Mental Health
A significant issue in contemporary healthcare is the mental health of our youth. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion with Healthy People 2020, which began focusing on one Leading Health Indicator to communicate the high priority of the topic, the organization could then focus on a specific issue each month to address and set goals for the data driven topic. Healthy People was established to provide preventative measures through providing quality and appropriate mental health services.
Mental health is where individuals are successful in activities, relationships and adapting/changing with life’s challenges so that they can contribute to society in a positive fashion. Mental disorders are a health condition that is an altering mood, behavior or thinking pattern that can impair functioning of living successfully in society. “Mental disorders may have a serious impact on physical health and are associated with the prevalence, progression, and outcome of some of today’s most pressing chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Mental disorders can have harmful and long-lasting effects—including high psychosocial and economic costs—not only for people living with the disorder, but also for their families, schools, workplaces, and communities.” (Healthy People, 2017).
Mental disorders are a serious concern in healthcare because they are the most common causes of a disability and are the highest of all diseases. “In any given year, an estimated 18.1% (43.6 million) of U.S. adults ages 18 years or older suffered from any mental illness and 4.2% (9.8 million) suffered from a seriously debilitating mental illness. Neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States, accounting for 18.7% of all years of life lost to disability and premature mortality. Moreover, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for the deaths of approximately 43,000 Americans in 2014.” (Healthy People, 2017).
Source: No Health Without Mental Health The Lancet, 2007
Mental health is essential to an individual’s well-being, interpersonal relationships, and the ability to live a full and productive life. Mental health is not disconnected from a person’s physical health. The body mind and spirit all work together to create a “healthy” individual. Depression and anxiety rank amongst the highest of mental illness. Mental disorders are affected by the interaction of environment, genetics and social means. Proactive approaches to working with this illness are interdisciplinary and draw on a variety of strategies. “Over the past 20 years, research on the prevention of mental disorders has progressed. The understanding of how the brain functions under normal conditions and in response to stressors, combined with knowledge of how the brain develops over time, has been essential to that progress.” (Healthy People, 2017). Areas that are hurtful or helpful to mental health are access to health services, adolescent health, educational/community- based programs, injury and violence prevention and substance abuse. If we know what impacts mental health in both positive and negative ways, we can set up more supports to assist people with mental disorders.
I believe that early intervention is crucial and many protective factors have been implemented throughout our schools and society for people to turn to. “A 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report advocates for multidisciplinary prevention strategies at the community level that support the development of children in healthy social environments. In addition to advancements in the prevention of mental disorders, there continues to be steady progress in treating mental disorders as new drugs and stronger evidence-based outcomes become available.” (Healthy People, 2017).
Mental health is a serious concern, not only for the repercussions of the illness turning physical, but the illness leading to death. The suicide rate increased about 7% from 2006-2010 and the major depressive episodes increased about 10%. “In 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 10–34 years in the United States. According to Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System data from 2013, 17% of high school students had seriously considered suicide, and 8% had attempted to take their own life in the past year. In 2013, among adolescents aged 12–17 years, 10.7% reported having had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past 12 months.” (Healthy People, 2017)
Texas is one state that is tackling this detrimental mental disability issue with the Zero Suicide Program (ZEST). There were 443 suicides among people 15-24 years old in 2014 in Texas. To attack this problem, ZEST focuses on identifying and treating high-risk youth by creating Suicide Safe Care Centers. This proactive approach to addressing this insatiable need is to employ the arts within these Safe Centers. Problems that may arise with the arts integrating into this area may be the fact that sometimes the integration of the arts is not easily gauged and for statistical purposes. I think that potential solutions would be to give the study a good year to integrate an art program into these centers and then perform interviews on patients who struggle with emotional disturbance and see how the arts have impacted their lives from a personal level. It would be interesting to follow a few case studies that would be open to being examined in a documentary format to see how the integration of arts impacted their lives.
There are many wonderful groups taking action to address mental health disabilities through the arts. Follow the links below to check out some of these amazing resources:
Australian Psychotherapist Discusses Benefits of Art Therapy for People With Mental Illness
Brain Injury Therapy Leads to Art Therapy