Is it possible to advocate for more mental healthcare and less at the same time?
Mental health awareness and mental health advocates contend that we need more mental health care for those in need. One in four people suffer with a mental health condition, and one in five children. Anyone who would argue against the need for more is “anti.”
We need more mental healthcare resources and services. More places people can go to get help in a crisis. More and better treatments, delivered with expertise and compassion. More services for impoverished people with lack of access to care. More care for the severely ill who too frequently cannot obtain the treatments they need. More services to keep the mentally ill out of jail and more support services to prop up those with debilitating diseases to stay on their medications and out of hospitals.
But I think we also need less mental healthcare.
We need less mental health intervention for the normal-yet-squirmy kindergarten boy. Less mental healthcare for the tumultuous seventh grader with big feelings and a bad attitude. Less for the twenty-something whose plans didn't work out. Less medical treatment for the young person coping with a break-up. We need less use of antipsychotics in routine depression care, and fewer advertisements for these treatments via TV commercials.
We need to prevent suicide without medicating everyone. We need to recognize the serious signs without overreacting to the mild ones.
We need more mental health care for the sickest folks, and less for the worried well.
Why? Because we’re raising awareness and getting more and more people into psychiatric treatment, but too often they are the wrong people. The ones with the greatest need are still overlooked and underserved. And then there is harm to both groups.
STUCK in the Sick Role: How Illness Becomes an Identity