The Need for Better Mental Health Care

Many individuals who woke up this morning wished that they should have never done so at all. There are those who are about to go to bed praying that they will not have any more tomorrows to face. While some who are at work, sitting through their classes at school, or fixing their children’s lunches are wondering what have become of their lives and what more potential does the bleak future offer.
In fact, there are those whose family and friends are mourning already, never quite understanding why an apparently healthy human being would end his own life. One common thread unites all these people and events: mental depression. This paper looks at the need for more mental health care services in order to better help people suffering from this condition and thus provide hope for them and for their families.

Gravity of Mental Illness
Few individuals realize the gravity of a mental illness such as depression in another human’s life. For some, the state of being depressed is a choice, and a person can easily “snap out of it” if only they would think positively and cut all the drama. Mental illnesses just like depression, is a medical condition, an actual disease of the mind that is not easily fixed with mere will power.
People sick with flu or colds are not asked to cure themselves, hence, why should depressed individuals bear their sufferings alone and without any care? It is a relief, nonetheless, that depression is not anymore new. Millions of individuals have it and millions are also seeking the necessary treatment and medication to get on with their lives. However, recognizing and acknowledging the problem, as opposed to ignoring it, is the first step towards recovery.
From the early philosophers, scholars and scientists’ perspectives, depression is a mystery caused by unknown powers in the universe. Based from early accounts, depressed or melancholic people demonstrate bizarre behavior, in which nobody could pinpoint the reason behind. Symptoms range from extreme sadness and lack of zeal in life to drastic mood changes. With the gradual development of modern scientific processes and correspondence among experts, specialists were able to define depression, identified its symptoms, and tried to discover its causes and remedies.
Mental Health Facilities
Traditional psychiatric hospitals and private psychiatrists and psychologists have been unable to meet the growing need for mental health services. The trend has been to develop local mental health clinics that offer the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, family therapists and others.
Emergency help is rendered to persons with acute mental disorders as well as to persons with chronic emotional problems. Short-term counselling and psychotherapy are usually provided. Programs are planned to deal with problems involving school, family, marriage partners, drug and alcohol abuse, and adolescence. Night clinics and suicide prevention centers are often established if a need exists. A person in need of immediate assistance is frequently helped by phone “hotline” services, manned by counselors and others, such as trained volunteers.
Many non-traditional facilities have been established to meet the needs of local area. An example of such a facility is a psychiatric day care center which was developed in a sparsely populated rural area in Michigan. Lacking funds to support a traditional psychiatric day care center, a psychiatric nursing consultant sought lay volunteers and used facilities in a community church to set up a program.
This program was designed to maintain and support persons referred by the local hospital psychiatric service and the community mental health center outpatient service. The nurse spent two hours one day a week as a group therapist. She also acted as a consultant to the volunteers. The program successfully met its objectives. It has grown from one group and one volunteer to three groups and thirty volunteers.
Person-Centered Therapy
Person-centered therapy is differentiated from other forms of therapy because of its “focus on the importance of the therapeutic relationship for effective therapy” (Josefowitz & Myran 2005). The person-centered approach was founded by acclaimed American counselor and psychotherapist, Carl Rogers (Kirschenbaum 2004). Early during his career, Rogers witnessed how stubborn a client could become and all together reject therapy even if it is for his betterment.
He then saw that patients could resist “even the most skilful therapist intervention” if such intervention is against his wish or purpose. Rogers realized the loopholes in the popular practices of his times for failing to incite effective client participation. He pondered on a new approach based on his understanding that “it is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried.”
Rogers was the first to employ the “non-directive” approach. It was a unique method where the counselor does not question, interpret, advice, suggest or offer any directive remarks on the patient, he only listens. The therapist carefully reflect the patient’s thoughts back to him, with the idea of helping him realize his issues and then decide on his own the direction of his self-actualization.
It was this non-directive method that applied the initiative that persons going into psychotherapies are not helpless individuals at the mere mercy of their psychotherapists’ designs. Clients can wilfully determine how their treatment should go because they are “responsible clients” who knows what aspects of their lives and personality need to be treated. His method has such respect for its patients that it assumes the key to a person’s self-actualization lies on the person and not on external influences (therapists or counselors). One of Roger’s important ideas that still have its impact today and is crucial to the personal approach is that a “counselor’s attitude is as important as his techniques” (Kirschenbaum 2004)
Depression as a Mental Health Issue
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health medical cases in the United States today with about 18 million Americans or 9.5 percent of the population affected. The problem of depression is not to be taken lightly, nor set aside as sheer caprice of a problematic person. Medical institutions including the United State’s National Institute of Mental Health declared it as a serious “real illness,” not just because of its prevalence, but also because of its effect on the lives of the afflicted individuals. Monetary expenses is a give fact when seeking treatment for depression, yet the heavier costs are those that concerns the pains of the individuals, the drudgery they have to face everyday, and the corresponding effect of the situation to their friends and loved ones.
Depression has already been observed since the ancient times, even during the prehistoric times. Real efforts to comprehend depression were only apparently undertaken during the time of the Hellenistic Greeks. Later part of history revealed that the growth of psychiatric or psychological science was hampered due to society’s closed mindedness and lack of concern for the mentally ill. Nevertheless, with the sporadic studies now and then, it was discovered that depression was once called “melancholia” and scientists made quite commendable documentation of the symptoms they observed among melancholic persons (Hollon, 2002).
The causes of depression are often summarized into the three classifications of neurobiology, genetics and environment. Neurobiological factors pertain to the abnormalities in neurotransmitters and hormones that affect mood, manner of handling stress, and perspective of traumatic situations. Genetics, as the name implies, refers to the inheritance of potential depression-causing gene traits within the family.
There is no solid proof of the existence of this gene so far, although there are relevant studies made to suggest that genetics may indeed play a role. Besides the number of cases of within-family depression speaks for itself. The last factor, triggers environmental depression brought about by emotionally taxing events that are not easily forgotten or set aside, so that it comes to haunt the person and affect his normal life. Depression may also be learned when the thought of powerlessness is so internalised. The person feels depressed with that thought that whatever actions will not merit any change or improvement.
Health Plans generally fall into three categories based on how they are organized to deliver/pay for care. HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) deliver services through provider networks and may use a member’s primary care provider as a ‘gatekeeper’ to more specialized services. PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) generally allow access to any provider, with some cost savings to a member for using providers in the network. Indemnity plans are traditional insurance products with defined cash payments, and no network limitations.
At present, prevalent types of Health Plans are HMOs and PPOs  (Health Plan). Effective policy and decision-making cannot be made in a vacuum, and is committed to providing the most comprehensive data possible. Taking that into consideration, public Health Plan performance must be well studied and its data analyzed. The HMO as well as other health care delivery systems must unite in order to address this issue since they are all important and adequate means of health care for many consumers with mental health problems.
Beck. A. (1967). Depression. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania
Grnblatt, E. (2006, November 3). Depression; New depression research has been reported          by scientists at Ludwig Boltzmann Institute. Genomics & Genetics Weekly.          Retrieved Feb. 8, 2007
Hollon, D.S., Thase, M.E. & Markowitz, J.C. (2002, November). Treatment and Prevention of Depression. Psychological Science, 3,  39. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2007    at: entId=11123&RQT=309&VName=PQD

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