The prevalence of Americans with mental health problems is a significant and growing issue. Individuals of all ages are profoundly impacted by debilitative problems that can only be treated by use of intervention therapies. The need for qualified clinical mental health counselors to aid in the treatment of these issues is critical.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Problems
Americans have been shaken in recent months by news of tragedies caused by individuals suffering from mental illnesses. While some with mental illnesses have committed crimes, a 2006 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that patients with severe mental illness, as identified by hospital admissions, committed only about 5 percent of all violent crimes.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) review epidemiological (health and illness patterns) study outcomes to understand the nature and significance of mental health problems, which can facilitate treatment options. Research shows that tens of millions of people are annually affected by mental disorders, but only a fraction get treatment.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
There are many types of afflictions that can compromise a person's mental health. Some of the more widely known disorders are:
- Anxiety – Generalized, Obsessive-Compulsive, Panic, Post-Traumatic Stress, Social Phobia
- Eating – Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating
- Mood – Bipolar, Major Depressive
- Personality – Antisocial, Avoidant, Borderline
Even more burdensome are mental disorders caused by serious mental illness (SMI). SMIs are defined as:
- A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that does not classify as substance abuse or as being developmental.
- Something that is current or has been diagnosed within the past year.
- Results in significant functional impairment, interfering with, or limiting, one or more major life activity such as: thinking or feeling; personal relationships; role performance; and/or basic needs care.
Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Adults
According to survey data released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the prevalence of adult Americans with SMIs was 4.6%, or 10.4 million. Nearly 20% of the adult population reportedly suffered from some mental illness. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
Issues Facing Adolescents & Young Adults
Unfortunately, mental health issues do not just impact the adult population; they also affect the well-being of children and adolescents. It's reported that approximately 20% of young people will suffer from a mental disorder that inhibits daily functioning at some point in their lives.
Additional data from the same study show the following disorders severely impact adolescents:
- Mood disorder (11%)
- Behavioral disorder (10%)
- Anxiety disorder (8%)
These statistics support the reality that there is a vast and growing need for qualified mental health professionals to provide preventative, early and ongoing treatment to persons of all ages.
Mental Health Treatment Solutions
Mental health treatment can be received from multiple sources. Mental health counselors are employed in schools, community programs, private organizations, corporations, and government programs.
Some duties of a mental health counselor are:
- Conducting early individual assessments or providing training to groups or individuals to recognize signs of mental illness.
- Working with psychologists, psychiatrists, and other health professionals to provide rehabilitative and/or therapeutic care.
- Working with individuals already suffering from mental illness to develop and implement treatment plans that facilitate recovery.
The breadth of a mental health counselor's services expands beyond these listed above. Given the prevalence of mental health disorders, the role of clinical mental health counselors is of considerable importance.
If you are ready to find your place in the mental healthcare sector, Lubbock Christian University, an accredited university, offers a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Small class sizes and a supportive environment challenge students to achieve their full potential for service to others.