The prevalence of mental illness in the United States is high, and the number of people experiencing mental health conditions affects how society continues to function. According to the National Institute of Mental Health ([NIMH], 2019), there were more than 46 million adults with a mental illness in the US in 2017 – almost 19% of the whole adult population. However, less than half of these people received mental health services. Systemic barriers to care become apparent when one considers that young adults and biracial adults are among the most affected groups, but they do not receive as much care as older adults and white people (NIMH, 2019). One can argue that access to mental health often depends on people’s finances and free time to request services. Moreover, this discrepancy also suggests a link between mental health and stigma – biracial people and younger adults and teenagers are under great stress from personal and professional issues. As a result, people with unaddressed mental illnesses may have difficulties exploring their full potential and feeling as members of society.
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As a social worker, my role is to ensure that people who need help are aware of how to get it and why it is crucial and beneficial for their wellbeing. Thus, I need to promote mental health awareness in communities that are impacted – young adults, children and teenagers, biracial adults, and other groups. Conversations with individuals, families, and community leaders should lower the effect of negative stigma on seeking mental health care. Moreover, I can advocate for better access to care by working with mental health organizations and specialists to introduce such initiatives as telepsychiatry – a way for underserved individuals to connect with mental health care workers. Finally, I can identify barriers that people experience when accessing help and disseminate this knowledge in the field and among government representatives to create a better system of care.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Mental illness.