Mental Illness

What if we treated mental health like cancer?

This is the title of a talk by Jürgen Unützer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. Although you can find an article with a video of the talk and the corresponding article at NEJM catalyst, one interesting section of the talk is pasted below:

“How would we feel about this if this was cancer?” asks Unützer. “What if we said, of all the people living with cancer in the United States, in the next 12 months, 1 out of 10 will get to see a doctor who is trained to see patients with cancer? We would probably find that totally unacceptable. But that’s where we are in mental health.” And not only is lack of care within a year an issue, but it takes 10 years for many people living with a mental health or substance abuse condition to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Mental health care is often stigmatized, and certainly under-prioritized relative to physical illnesses. This talk highlights the need for us to mental health serious and insure that patients that suffer from serious mental illness get the high-quality care they need.

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