Tatum Menon | Guest Writer
Grand Junction: the place I call home, the area that is ranked highly in mountain biking, and the site NPR references as the suicide capital of Colorado. Other mental health concerns standing amongst suicide have filled the valley for the past few years. What differentiates Grand Junction from other towns in the U.S? Why is the suicide rate three times the national average? It is because of the stigma surrounding mental health? Is it because of the geographic location in rural America? Or is it due to the inadequate government funding for mental health research and treatment? While there is a multitude of complex reasoning behind the suicide rate in my hometown, one thing I am sure about is across the nation every county faces the lack of funding for mental health. Mental health is societally repressed and economically neglected.
While the stigma surrounding mental health is still a widespread issue today: it is slowly decreasing due to millennial attention. However, it is quite problematic when the projected government budget for 2019 proposed by President Trump decreases the funding by twenty-one percent from 2017 (Howard, 2018). While normalizing and conversing about mental health is reducing the stigma, it only fights half the battle that forty-four million American adults and two million American minors face every day (MIA Prevalence Data, 2018). At the end of the day, a teenager discussing their severe anxiety to a close friend is helpful, but when resources are unavailable- no tangible progress will be made to assist the persisting issues. By increasing funding towards mental illnesses, we will progress the research by managing better prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and further assist people to discover numerous transparent resources.
Transparency of resources is another obstacle people struggle against when dealing with their mental health, but there remains a more significant problem at stake- how do we make funds more transparent when we barely have them in the first place? This is a large problem in rural America, which some might reference as the suicide belt. In my hometown, there is one small mental health hospital between the larger cities: Salt Lake City and Denver, a five thousand mile span (Rizzo, 2018). But look to the big picture: one out of five adults with mental illness reported they were not being able to receive the necessary treatment (MIA Accessibility Data, 2018).
If we want to continue on our path of increasing transparency of resources while decreasing the stigma, we need more government backing. If we're going to help our citizens that face mental illnesses: we need to act now. If we want to fight the other half the battle, we need more resources and research that the government should provide.
Student written opinion pieces