Saturday, February 24, 2024

Column: The full picture of American health

March 27, 2020
Di'Amond Moore photographed on March 11, 2020.
Di'Amond Moore photographed on March 11, 2020. —
Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

In the face of physical illness on a national scale, reactions are often swift and determined to find a solution. All efforts immediately shift toward cures and support for those affected. Discussions of stimulus packages meant to provide financial support and efforts to boost community morale unfold behind the porcelain walls of Capitol Hill.

While these reactions are necessary, a question of why that same reaction isn’t utilized during a mental health crisis remains. 

The United States has been dealing with a mental health crisis for some time. Yet, conversations and concerns about this very prevalent issue are drowned out and forgotten by the 30-second news cycle.

It is understandable as to why citizens would rather direct their attention toward something they can see immediately impacting their lives. However, it is important to also look at the threats that lie below the surface. 

Suicide was within the top leading cause of death for citizens ages 10 to 65 and older, according to a 2018 report by the National Center for Health Statistics. Four of the top 20 causes of death for all age groups are suicide. In 2017, the National Vital Statistics Reports stated 47,173 people died by suicide. These deaths are just as relevant and crucial to the total picture of health in the U.S. as any physical illness citizens could acquire. 

The current situation consuming the world is unparalleled.

Currently, attention rests with concerns of financial fallout and economic stability due to the coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing recommendations have been issued and should be taken seriously. However, those whose survival depends on a daily routine and social interactions have not been taken into account. Conversations need to be had about citizens who deal with mental illness and how new government regulations may be impacting them. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought heavy attention to health care faults in the U.S. While mental illness should also be highlighted during this time, it has not been. It is important though, to remember that mental illness needs to be a part of the conversation of reform. Physical and mental illness need to be considered equally when discussing health.  

Those not infected with COVID-19 are still vulnerable to the repercussions of isolation and loss of a daily routine. Now is an opportunity to widen the microscope and see the entire problem.

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