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Mental Illness in America: How Can We Address a Growing Problem? (NIF Issue Advisory)

In October 2013, National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) released an Issue Advisory that contains materials that can be used in deliberating over the issue of the impact of mental illness in America. This “issue advisory” is not a full NIF issue guide, but a basic outline of the options, entitled Mental Illness in America: How Do We Address a Growing Problem? It can be downloaded here.

From the introduction…cover_mental_illness_advisory350

Many Americans share a sense that something is wrong with how we address mental health and mental illness. More and more of us are taking medications for depression, hyperactivity, and other disorders. Meanwhile, however, dangerous mental illnesses are going undetected and untreated.

According to some, recent violent incidents reflect the need to increase security and increase our ability to detect mental illness. Others point to increasing numbers of veterans returning from overseas with post-traumatic stress disorders as a major concern. One in five Americans will have mental health problems in any given year. Unaddressed mental illness hurts individuals and their families and results in lost productivity. In rare cases, it can result in violence.

This Issue Advisory presents a framework that asks: How can we reduce the impact of mental
illness in America?

This issue advisory presents three options for deliberation, along with their drawbacks:

  • Option One: Put Safety First – more preventive action is necessary to deal with mentally ill individuals who are potentially dangerous to themselves or others.
  • Option Two: Ensure Mental Health Services are Available to All Who Need them – people
    should be encouraged to take control over their own mental health and be provided the tools to do so.
  • Option Three: Let People Plot their Own Course – we should not rely on so many medical approaches and allow people the freedom to plot their own course to healthy lives.

Resource Link: http://nifi.org/stream_document.aspx?rID=25092&catID=6&itemID=25088&typeID=8 (pdf)

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