More Seeking Treatment During Recession
> 3/10/2009 7:59:51 PM

A fortunate few remain untouched by the current economic crisis. But most have felt its influence threaten their financial and emotional security, anxieties have increased and mental health treatment rates have risen accordingly. New data from the U.S. and the U.K. confirms that, as expected, an increasing number of Americans and Britons have sought the help of a mental health professional over the past year. And these numbers will surely continue to rise as the recession persists.

British mental health provider Priory Group reports a 20% increase in treatment rates and warns of an ongoing spike, naming “recession-depression” as a major public health concern while Britain plans to offer government-sponsored therapy to affected citizens. U.S. treatment numbers have also risen considerably; some American psychiatrists recall noting a similar surge immediately following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. As in 2001, effects have been especially severe in our country’s financial centers, with New York-area suicide hotlines reporting a 75% increase in call volume since August 2007. The largest U.S. employee assistance provider reported a 21% increase in stress treatment requests in 2008; in a recent APA poll, 3 out of 4 Americans claimed economic anxiety with half naming housing costs as its source.

Extended economic emergencies can easily give way to depression. Its causes are obvious: unemployment; rising debt; home foreclosure and the domestic stresses of financial strain. Its victims include entire families struck by the loss of their homes and savings. Situational anxiety does not necessarily amount to mental illness, and most will eventually recover from their money woes, but individuals whose recession stress interferes with their daily lives should strongly consider seeking treatment – mental health is paramount in times of crisis, and ours looks to continue for some time.

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