The Good and the Bad From the National Comorbidity Study
> 4/11/2006 1:13:55 PM

MSN ran an interesting story today that sums up the findings of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication that was published last year. As the MSN article notes, there were some encouraging findings, and there were some that weren't so encouraging.

First, the good: "Treatment has become more widespread since the early 1990s because of greater public awareness, more effective diagnosis, less stigma, more screening and outreach programs, and greater availability of medications. Most important, according to the survey researchers, has been the growing willingness of general practitioners to prescribe psychoactive medications, especially antidepressants."

All of these measurements are great indicators of achievement in areas that have been areas of concern. Of course, the news isn't all good.

"Still, at the beginning of the 21st century nearly 60% of people with psychiatric disorders were getting no treatment. And partly because most treatment was still inadequate, the overall rate of mental illness did not change between 199192 and 20012003. According to survey researchers, one reason may be that many physicians lack the time, training, and experience needed to persuade patients to keep taking medications and make return visits."

What this Survey Replication has proven very effective in doing is highlighting areas where improvement must continue. Many times general practitioners are a weak link in the chain of healing for mental health problems. This is through no fault of there own, but is usually a construct of the healthcare system, and a lack of training in these areas, as the survey noted. Luckily, this is a situation that should continue to improve with time.

One particular important paragraph from the MSN piece bears repeating here in its entirety:

"It may be surprising to learn that 46% of the American population has been mentally ill at some time. But more than 99% of us will have a significant physical illness at some time in our lives, and even mild to moderate psychiatric disorders can be as harmful as chronic physical illness. Major depression, for example, causes more disability and misery than most medical disorders. And many psychiatric disorders are life-threatening consider the relationship between alcoholism and accidental death, or between depression and suicide. Also, unlike most physical illnesses, mental illness usually begins in youth and affects people in the prime of life."

If more people could learn to approach mental health with this type of mindset, we would be well on our way to a healthier society.

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