As we’ve seen in the past few months, America’s healthcare system is disorganized and ill-equipped to handle national health crises. When it comes to mental health, the United States is even less prepared, and even less likely to give a crisis due attention in the first place. Even within the health community, mental health is a topic that is often overlooked or diminished in favor of physical illnesses. However, on average, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for people in the United States and amongst younger Americans, it is between the second and third leading cause of death. From 1998 to 2018, the rate of suicide in the United States has risen 35%.
Additionally, our current physical health crisis and probable economic recession will likely have a large negative impact on Americans’ mental health. A poll conducted by the American Psychological Association on stress levels related to Coronavirus found that the percentage of stress related to providing basic needs, access to education, the current economy, and employment had all significantly risen since the same poll conducted a year before in 2019. Coronavirus has been an even larger cause of stress among communities of color. Political tensions in the U.S. may also be a significant cause of rising stress levels, particularly as the presidential election approaches, as the APA also found that even prior to the pandemic, Americans’ stress levels rose in regard to turbulence in the political climate, and the future of the country.
As stress levels rise, it is increasingly important for Americans to use their votes to bring awareness to mental health and improve the accessibility and availability of mental health tools.
Mental health policies may also vary from state to state. Here is a compiled list of all measures that are scheduled to appear on state ballots in the near future:
If you are interested in learning more about the topic of mental health in the United States, I strongly encourage you to do your own research regarding current policies, issues, and politicians’ stances to determine how you can make a difference.