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Isolation and Mental Illness

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Isolation is quite possibly the hardest factor to cope with in our “new normal.” It is hard for all of us to not be able to participate in beloved holiday traditions, seeing our friends in person, and communicating with our family over a screen. One of the hardest things about isolation has been the impact that it has taken on mental health.

The emphasis on mental health has never been more prevalent and important as it has been today. In 2019, The National Institute of Mental Health documented that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffered with a mental illness. In 2021, that statistic has risen to 1 in 3. The demand for mental health services has risen significantly in the last year alone. However, a survey recently conducted by the World Health Organization has identified that access to mental health care has been abruptly halted in over 93% of countries. This brings up two very important questions: What has contributed to this rise and also, what’s the holdup?

The rise in mental illness can be proportionally linked to the increase in stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that the pandemic gave way to in 2020. With the spotlight on isolation, many people feel a disconnect to the world that can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and other common mental illnesses. However, not all of this is bad news. The emphasis on isolation has also given us valuable resources to increase the awareness about the devastating effect that mental illness has on the majority of the population. It has allowed us to use a mutual platform of shared emotions to de-stigmatize some of the toxic thoughts surrounding the mental health conversation. This can be beneficial in the next step of the process which is providing universal care for mental health.

Pre-pandemic funding for mental health services was less than 2 percent of the national budget for health care services. This underdevelopment of critical care programs has led to a deficit in programs today. In 2021, even if there was a substantial initiative to increase funding to mental health services it would only be applying a bandage to staunch the gaping wound that is the lack of mental health care. In a recent Gallup survey, the general assessment of American mental health is “worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades.”

It seems to appear that there is no hope for the future of mental health. The isolation of the cold and dark winter, the current political unrest, the economic instability, the pandemic: all seem to be against the positive motion of the mental health movement. While it is true that a vaccination might fix some of these problems, it is uncertain that it can undo the damage of the past year in terms of mental health. However, this does not mean that we have to give up in the pursuit of mental health service. The continual effort of collaboration can have a positive impact on the battle that is national mental health.

Apploi’s 2021 Healthcare Trends Report

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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