Monday, September 04, 2006

It's Monday! YOU Do the Math!

[This is an entry in my Monday blog series. I use math in the title to refer to the numbers that will be present in each entry in this series. Each entry will revolve around statistics of some sort—typically some interesting statistics I might have happened across recently and wanted to share.]

As an individual seeking a career path in the mental health realm, I am always fascinated by statistics on this topic. Recently I came across an article in a magazine put out by the Texas Medical Association for physicians. The magazine is "Texas Medicine," but it was the cover story that caught my attention and led me to wanting to read an article in this August edition.

The article was entitled "Diagnosing Mental Illness: Patients turn first to primary care physicians." I found this article very intriguing. It shared some statistics that I found rather eye-opening, and I wanted to share them here:

...mental illness is no laughing matter, especially when one in every four Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says mental disorders are the leading cause of disability for people aged 15 to 44 and that many suffer from more than one disorder at a given time.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says only about 25 percent of people with mental disorders obtain treatment.

It's obvious when considering the state's population numbers that the supply of psychiatrists has not kept up with demand...The Texas Medical Board says there were 1,298 general psychiatrists and 190 child psychiatrists in 2005.

The DSHS report says the number of psychiatry residency programs in Texas has been stagnant for the past 10 years, and it is unlikely the state will be able to address the need for more psychiatrists with that level of training positions. This year, 62 psychiatric residency positions were offered in the state.

No psychiatrists are available in 181 counties, and there are very few in West Texas or the Panhandle. Many border counties lack an adequate number of psychiatrists as well.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, untreated mental illness costs the United States $300 billion each year; untreated depression alone is responsible for $40 billion of that.

[Prather, E. (2006). Diagnosing Mental Illness. Texas Medicine. August 2006. p. 24-29]

Think about three of your friends and then decide which of y'all is the one with a diagnosable mental illness! ;) And most likely, that one of y'all isn't getting treated for it. And IF they actually are, and they live in Texas, they very well might be getting their medication for treatment from a primary car physician instead of a psychiatrist.

It's just interesting. Though the stats were not mentioned in this article, I know from previous research that Texas is one of the lowest paying states for mental health providers. With this being the case, it's no wonder good mental health care is hard to come by. This is a disservice to 25% of Americans--having inadequate mental health care. And if this isn't bad enough...

Recently a friend of mine shared a news article website with me. This is unbelievable. First we are neglecting the mentally ill, then we are discriminating against them. The link is here.

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