Distress High in the Big Apple
> 4/12/2006 9:10:44 AM

A recent survey has found that residents of New York suffer more frequently from mental distress than their compatriots around the country. As reported by the New York Times, the new survey, which will appear in the May issue of The Journal of Urban Health, comes from a telephone poll of 10,000 randomly selected New Yorkers.

Nearly 1 in 7 adults in New York City described their mental health last year as being frequently "not good," compared with 1 in 10 adults in a comparable national survey... Thirteen percent of adults who answered the city's survey last year reported that their mental health was "not good" on 14 or more days of the month, compared with 10 percent in a similar national survey that measured "frequent mental distress," like stress, depression or other emotional problems.

When it comes to some of the other survey data, it is mental health professionals and city officials who should be distressed. According to the poll only 40% of those who responded that they had felt a high level of distress sought treatment for their problem.

Cited as the most common barriers to mental health treatment were cost (41 percent); not wanting or needing help (11 percent); shame, fear and other beliefs about mental illness (10 percent); procrastination and logistical barriers (each 8 percent); and lack of access to care and negative perceptions of treatment (each 6 percent). The remaining 10 percent cited other reasons.

"You put that all together and it adds up to a major public health problem," the executive deputy commissioner for mental hygiene at the health department, Dr. Lloyd Sederer said. "These are common disorders, they're highly prevalent, they are disabling, they cause great human suffering, and they interfere with functioning." Mental illness increases the risk of dying from untreated medical conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, and from suicide, he said

Making things all the more difficult is the fact that frequent unemployment and poverty were highly correlated with self-reported mental health problems. This creates a situation wherein those who are most in need of treatment are those that can least afford it.

This report itself shows that New York is not resting on its laurels. The city has an active campaign that pushes many of the regions top health concerns. Depression and other mental health problems are chief among them.

For further information see the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's press release. If you are a New Yorker, the DOHMH's website is also a great resource for information about mental health issues and assistance.

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