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A Run-Down on Mental Health in the US

Over the last several years, there have been countless mass shootings – injuring and killing record numbers of people in various areas of the United States, as well as worldwide. Of course, through presidential administrations – in the recent Obama administration and now fresh into President Trump’s administration where sadly, a majority of these shootings have occurred; there has been constant back and forth debate about what to do in regards to gun rights and violations. These conversations are now being brought up once again. As important as that is and as I continue to hope for stricter changes, I also can not help but to think about the mental health procedures and awareness in the United States.

Recently, mental health has been proven to be a valid problem in various age groups, however it is the older age groups that are not as focused on. Because of this issue in regards to diagnosis that surround it, I feel as if that is why so many cases go unnoticed, or for the most part, un-bothered. An article published by The Washington Post in 2012, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, discusses seven facts in regards to the question of “What are the United States’ mental health policies?” 

Throughout the article, it mostly discussed the expense of insurance expansion to cover mental health costs, as well as areas within the United States that are less covered with mental health officials than others. The article also discusses how categorized “mental health dollars” go mostly towards prescriptions and out patient treatments.

                                         Chart/photo from The Washington Post article. 

In today’s society, it is very common for people usually in age groups 18 and up to either currently or previously experienced levels of anxiety, depression, etc., in various temperaments. As a country who is now widely embracing mental health, since it has become more common in diagnoses, it should truly be our duty to keep these services available and affordable. In most of the recent mass shootings, there has always been some confirmation after the shooting about the killer being previously diagnosed with an array of mental health issues. The problem is, often times with these diagnoses, because of the way the United States deals with these issues, diagnosis and treatment is often not affordable, causing patients to work around the system, not accurately monitoring illness and progress. Most people usually begin with a diagnosis and handle the rest on their own — with the help prescription drugs on their own time due to the limitations of inpatient facilities. This keeps the health system out of it for the most part, leaving it ultimately up to the patient.

With the recent Las Vegas shooting, there has been a constant update on the suspect’s family background, as well as his past battles with mental health. It was found that in 2013, he took a high dosage of Valium for anxiety. As for how long he stayed on medication, or if he ever had accurate medical care is unknown. For me, the part that I struggle the most with is, this information was found so quickly after the awful event, but why was it so hard for his record to be tracked? 

Photo credits: Cover Photo from Nathan O’Neal’s Twitter account/featured in CNN article, 1.

Aja is a Junior at VCU studying Political Science. She loves going to brunch, working out, healthy eating and is overly obessed with the Kardashians & her three dogs (Cooper, Bentley and Lulu). You can follow her on Instagram @ajaerinmo!
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