WHEELER – It’s time to modernize our approach: raising awareness of mental health
SMajor mental illness is the second leading cause of disability in the United States. Colorado ranks last in the need for long-term care compared to access to long-term care for adults.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of mental illness has increased elevated by 25% globally, leading to an unprecedented mental health crisis. However, only about 30% of the mentally ill are willing to seek medical treatment themselves. In addition, nine out of ten of those who do not seek professional help are members minorities. There shouldn’t be that kind of difference. Now is the time for our healthcare system to revolutionize the approach we take to treating mental illness, modernize the way we look at mental health, and encourage innovation in new treatments and their accessibility nationwide.
Mental and behavioral health issues have been challenging in Colorado, and the pandemic has made it even more difficult for people of color to find the treatments and services they need. Statistically, more than half of the Colorado minority ethnic group affected by mental illness do not seek medical treatment for themselves. part of challenge has problems with scheduling, a lack of insurance coverage, and severely limited availability of psychiatrists and psychologists. We need brain health that is affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.
As a leader in the African American business community, I realize now more than ever that historically disadvantaged communities need our voice. We must ensure that all Colorado residents have equal and affordable mental health care for themselves and their families. Additionally, we must advance our work to educate our communities about the various freely available resources to help them with their brain health needs.
We must streamline the way we treat major depressive disorders, promote innovative solutions that improve the lives of patients with major mental illness, and ensure patients have access to the treatments they need. Rethinking the way we treat major depression is crucial, and this starts with creating an enabling environment for innovative solutions. Patients suffering from a mental illness deserve to have all their options on the table and the freedom to pursue treatment pathways that are unique to their own circumstances.
Transforming our healthcare system and modernizing the way we look at mental illness would make it easier to have a discussion about brain health. It would help make brain health resources more affordable and accessible. Significant reforms would also encourage more people to seek treatment, rather than discourage patients from taking preventive measures or in situations where they downplay their mental health needs.
The stigma surrounding mental health is long-standing, pushing people away from treatment when they need it most. But why is the treatment of the brain viewed differently than any other human organ? Why is the conversation about brain health and the plethora of treatment options less desirable?
The brain is the most important part of our body and we have failed to recognize and treat it as such. As a result, mental health treatment systems in our country have been stagnant for over 60 years. The brain is an organ and novel therapeutic treatments must be at the forefront of solving our mental health crisis. Prioritizing brain health is imperative and urgent.
Maya Wheeler is currently Executive Director of the African Chamber of Commerce in Colorado. The African Chamber of Commerce is the premier platform and trusted voice connecting Greater Colorado to the African continent for business development aimed at creating growth and investment by strengthening Colorado’s African business community.