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Cases of mental illness are skyrocketing in America and more people are suffering from anxiety and depression. 44 million U.S. adults currently suffer from a mental illness, and 56% of them have not received any mental health treatment. With so many people suffering, you would think that more would be done to combat the mental health crisis in this country. Sadly, this is not the case. 


Like many other Americans, I suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness for years before finally getting the treatment I needed. It almost felt like the world was invalidating my struggles and telling me they didn’t matter. This has always been a problem, and mental health diagnoses and treatments are still incredibly difficult to obtain. Treatments are left for the upper crust of society, those that can afford the ridiculously high rates. Also, there is still a lot of stigma regarding mental health. A lot of families- including older generations and those of particular religious or cultural backgrounds- have preconceived notions that mental illnesses are not real or valid problems. 


Once someone finally does get treatment, it is not a miracle solution, and many people have to work hard for years to finally see positive results. The struggle of facing those who critique mental illness never ends, and is a constant battle that people like me have to face. 


For me, the worst part is the invalidation. We live in a society where physical illnesses are prioritized over mental illnesses, and patients with physical ailments are viewed as more pressing. However, in many situations, mental illnesses are not regarded in the same way as physical ones. In a lot of cases, mental illnesses are almost as severe as, or even worse than physical illnesses because they are invisible. For myself and many others, society has forced us into a cycle of hiding. Because we have been trained that our mental health isn’t as important or concerning, we have learned to hide it from the world. 


Some other related issues are the insurance and fees for mental health treatment. Most people cannot afford quality therapists because they charge ridiculous fees. I have also recently realized that insurance doesn’t make this problem any easier. My new insurance company has no in-network psychologists in the region of the state I live in. By not including in-network therapists, insurance companies are basically barring their customers from getting the help they need for their mental health. Since there are no in-network psychologists provided by my insurance, which also excludes the therapist I have been seeing for over a year, I am forced to pay out of network for my treatment, making it even more expensive than in-network copays. 


We wonder why so many people are struggling, and specifically struggling in silence, in America. Why do so many people suffer from often undiagnosed depression and anxiety? The problem is the stigma surrounding mental health and its validity, and the system. We need to break down this stigma if we ever want to see change. Once we break down the wall, we need to make sure that treatment is affordable, as well as available, for every population who could need or want it. The system currently struggles to provide quality and affordable treatments for people who need help and do not have the economic means to pay for the expenses. We need to break down the system from the inside out to fix how insurances and healthcare services cater to people with mental illnesses. 


This is a very personal topic for me since I know what it’s like to suffer in silence and struggle without the help I need. I want to use my platform for change so that other people can get the help they need, and so we can finally validate mental illness in 21st century America. 

Julianne is a Senior at Adelphi University. She is a mathematics major in the STEP education program. She is apart of the Active Minds, Her Campus, GSA, and Future Teacher's Association clubs at her university. She likes everything Disney and in her free time likes to write and do photography.