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What do you believe will be the future of mental health services. In your answer, discuss some of the public perceptions surrounding mental illness and access to care in the United States and the importance of health service administrators in the management of mental health services.

Mental health services have been an integral part of the U.S. medical care for a number of years. Despite its significance, American national mental health care system seems to experience a hard time at the moment.

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As the country is still recovering from a deep economic crisis, shortages in state budgets are likely to affect funding of mental health services. Unfortunately, the budget cuts might be made at a time when mental health services are especially needed.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four Americans is likely to experience mental illness at some point in their lives. Furthermore, it is estimated that 10.6 million people in the US will be affected by the most serious mental conditions. Despite these worrisome statistics, the future of mental health services in America seems to be quite bleak.

For example, as a Report of the Surgeon General reveals, Medicare and Medicaid imposed limitations on mental health coverage, particularly for long-term care, to avoid a complete shift in financial responsibility from state to the Federal government. Similarly, some private insurers refuse to cover mental illness treatment. Those who do provide coverage enact various financial restrictions, such as lower annual and lifetime limits on care or separate deductibles and copayments.

The problem with mental health services is also compounded by the stigma that remains attached to those suffering from mental disorders. Borinstein (1992) reports that while a plurality of Americans does not perceive persons with mental illness as excessively violent or dangerous, 15–24 % of respondents were concerned about the potential violence and dangerousness of persons with mental illness. Similarly, Americans are reluctant to welcome a wide variety of mental health facilities into their communities.

                                             TD#6: Obesity in America

According to the World Heath Organization (WHO), the number of overweight adults in the world has reached over 1 billion and at least 300 million of them are obese. Although the obesity epidemic is not confined to industrialized societies, the US is clearly one of the top countries on the list.

Flegal, Carroll and Ogden (2010, p.235) report that in 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity in America was 32.2% among adult men and 35.5% among adult women. These figures are alarming for several reasons: obesity and overweight substantially increase a risk for chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

Why is obesity on the rise? The pace of the epidemic can be explained by the profound changes that have been taking place in our society over recent decades. There is no doubt that genes partially determine a person’s susceptibility to excessive weight.

At the same time, energy balance depends on calorie intake and regular physical activity. Thus, changing patterns of behavior in our communities and worldwide nutrition transition are responsible for the obesity epidemic. Economic growth, modernization, urbanization and globalization of food markets also contribute to the obesity trend.

A recent report called Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity warns that overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease and death as cigarette smoking. It further suggests some strategies for communities to halt the spread of the epidemic.

Educating new mothers about breastfeeding, requiring physical education for all school grade levels, supplying healthy food options on school campuses, and creating safe and accessible recreational facilities for community residents are some of the recommendations offered in the report.

References:

Borinstein, Andrew. (1992). Public Attitudes Toward Persons With Mental Illness. Health, 11(3), 186-196.

Flegal, Katherine M., Carroll, Margaret D., & Ogden, Cynthia L. (2010). Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. JAMA, 303(3), 235-241.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, MD. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/calltoaction/CalltoAction.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (N.d). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter6/sec3.html

World Health Organization. (2010). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/media/en/gsfs_obesity.pdf

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