May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is estimated that close to 1 billion people worldwide have a mental health condition. The World Health Organization estimates that between 5.7%-8% of adults suffer from depression. Yet nearly 2/3 of people with a known mental health condition never seek treatment. Why is this, when mental health challenges are so widespread in the US and across the globe? We know there is still a strong social stigma against mental health conditions that persists. But there are other barriers. Financial barriers, racial disparities, too much need and not enough mental health professionals, and a lack of awareness about mental health all play a role.
Today on Speak Up Arkansas, we’re talking about mental health access in Arkansas. Who seeks treatment? What do treatment options in our state look like? How are we as a state responding to what many characterize as a mental health crisis in our country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? What can we do to ensure that those who are suffering are able to get help? And a survivor shares the story of her personal journey living with a mental health condition.
Elaine Williams is a member of Disability Rights Arkansas’s PAIMI Advisory Council (PAIMI stands for Protection and Advocacy of Individuals with Mental Illness). She is a member of the Arkansas Client Voice Council. She has a background in psychology and has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years. She lives and works in Prescott, AR.
Leslee Bagley is a person living with a mental health condition. She managed to graduate both high school and college with honors, all while dealing with her mental health issues in secret. Today, she is a mental health advocate, working to give a voice to those who don’t have one.
Luke Kramer is the Vice President of Patient Advocacy and Community Engagement at Evolution Research Group. Luke worked at Birch Tree Communities, a nonprofit mental health facility here in Arkansas for 17 years before starting a nonprofit, The STARR Coalition, where he focused on advocating for more cutting-edge mental health research.
Every year, Mental Health America releases their State of Mental Health in America report. Download a copy.
Evolution Research Group is one of the largest research organizations in the nation focusing on the conduct of clinical trials for healthy individuals and those suffering from psychiatric disorders, pain, Alzheimer’s, hepatic, renal and other debilitating diseases. ERG conducts research with volunteer subjects with the goal of identifying breakthrough treatments. Choosing to participate in a clinical research trial is a personal decision. If you would be willing to participate in mental health research, or would like to learn more, visit their website.