Generalizing mental health disorders by their symptoms does the specificity of each disorder a grave injustice. Eloquently described by Scientific American contributor Edmund S. Higgins, “the problem is that the brain is exceedingly complex. Behavior, emotions, and cognition are manifestations of networks of cells that are turned on or off at the right time.” Higgins touches on an important fact of treating mental illness- it’s about treating the brain. For mental health disorders like addiction and alcoholism, formally referred to as substance use disorders, there is ongoing research and experimentation being conducted to locate the exact cells in the brain which contribute to cravings and impulsivity. As though there may be a cure hidden within these tiny spots, scientists understand that the overall symptoms of addiction are not greater than some of its parts. Higgins continues to say, “The capacity to affect specific cells in the brain without altering other cells remains a massive challenge.” Continuing to treat mental illness as a whole without looking at specific parts is effective in curing the symptoms, but has thus far contributed little to solving the entire problem.
Treatment Takes Work
Thankfully, the treatment that exists works, for the most part. Addicts and alcoholics find recovery. Those living with chronic clinical depression find relief. Anxiety finds calm and even post traumatic stress disorder finds a bit of safety. It takes work on behalf of the patient to learn and implement therapeutic tools for managing their mental illnesses. Accessing the kind of treatment that allow them these tools, however, is another challenge in itself.
Access to mental health treatment is still limited. Many areas have a population of people living with mental illness which severely outnumbers the amount of mental health practitioners, including psychiatrists and psychologists, available for treating them. Not enough people are interested in going into the fields leaving millions without access to treatment. Add in the ongoing changes in governmental law and regulation regarding insurance and affordable care and be left with a struggle for health.
Treating mental illness and reconciling the damage done by those with untreated mental illness, costs the United states a cool couple of billion dollars per year- somewhere in the 100’s range. According to information provided in Higgins’ article, “Over the past two decades mental illness has become the second most common cause of disability in the U.S., as measured by Social Security disability claims.”
Avalon By The Sea is one of California’s few certified mental health treatment centers, providing primary care for mental health disorders. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call 1 (888) 958-7511 today.