The Need for Stronger Mental Health Services in Healthcare Organizations

Mental health servicesThere is an undeniable and growing mental health epidemic in modern society.  Not only are mental health disorders affecting a generation of youth, but mental illness has reached an all-time high among adults as well. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Research suggests that mental health problems begin early in life”, with one out of four adults suffering from mental health issues every year. Unfortunately, mental illness is not always readily apparent.

The mental illnesses themselves range from the most common forms such as anxiety and depression to more sinister ones such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who suffer from mental illnesses are often plagued by deficits in cognition and function throughout their day-to-day lives. There’s also a significantly greater risk for those diagnosed with mental illnesses to use drugs and alcohol, be involved in risky sexual activities, have problems interacting with others, or even commit suicide.

One of the most important mental health issues to address is mental illness itself, but mental illness presents an interesting dichotomy – one that healthcare organizations often fall victim to: mental illnesses tend to worsen without proper treatment, but patients are extremely reluctant in seeking out mental health services.

This article explores the problem of mental health service provision within healthcare organizations; particularly how struggling providers can overcome these barriers and provide effective mental health care for those who need it.



An Overview of Mental Health Services


The mental health service industry is one that has evolved significantly in recent decades. Similar to mental healthcare, mental health services began as a grassroots movement with small clinics and private practitioners catering to the mentally ill. However, mental healthcare has widened its scope from helping out those who need it the most to providing care for everyone with common mental disorders like depression or anxiety. Some would argue this was a good thing – there is no denying mental illnesses are prevalent in society today . But others may view it as a negative thing; more people means more mental problems, and thus more of an investment needed for mental healthcare programs.

Unfortunately, mental illnesses are complex disorders with no easy solution or cure; mental illness is not easily identified and it does not have any magic cures. Mental illness requires long-term treatment plans and continuous monitoring that must be carried out by mental health providers.

The effectiveness of mental health providers lies within their ability to provide care for patients struggling with bouts of mental illness. The approach taken by most mental healthcare teams is to focus on drug therapy regimens and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). While both CBT and drug therapies can prove effective in treating some forms of mental disorders, mental health providers have to be wary of the mental illness itself, and how it can potentially progress over time.

Hospitals were once the go-to mental healthcare providers for those in need, but mental health services have changed in recent years. With mental healthcare still growing and mental health service organizations working to fill the gaps of mental illnesses, there is a significant lack of providers in this field that can provide care to those who need it most.

Despite this apparent decline in mental healthcare programs within hospitals, there has been a rise in specialized mental health centers that specialize not just in mental illnesses, but specific kinds as well (i.e., trauma). This is important because it allows people suffering from severe cases of PTSD or schizophrenia to seek out help without having to worry about being judged by other patients — a common problem when seeking out treatment at traditional hospitals.  

While mental health services continue to evolve with the industry, mental disorders remain prevalent and mental healthcare providers work hard to determine effective solutions for their patients. Mental illness is often difficult to detect, but it can be identified through proper treatment plans, medication regimens, and monitoring via mental health professionals.   



Weaknesses of Current Mental Healthcare Systems


Not Enough Funding

 A mental illness is often hard to diagnose and, as mental health services are usually not heavily funded, many mental healthcare specialists do not have the time or resources to treat mental illness. Instead, mental health providers will opt for prescribing anti-depressants or other medication regimens that help patients cope with symptoms of mental disorders . This lack of funding also leads to a lack of specialization in mental healthcare because more money can be made by focusing on curing physical ailments rather than mental ones – this means mental illnesses such as OCD are simply covered under the same category as physical ailments and it may take years of investigation before a proper diagnosis can be made.


Lack of Mental Health Professionals

As mental health services are not heavily funded by large mental illness insurance companies, mental healthcare providers cannot afford to hire new mental health specialists due to the costs that come along with employing more workers. As a result, mental healthcare practitioners and mental healthcare clinics have less mental health care professionals working for them.



When mental illness is misdiagnosed as something else , it can result in mental illnesses being ignored or mental healthcare practitioners prescribing medication for mental disorders that may not be enough to alleviate symptoms. To compensate, mental health services need to improve their ability to distinguish mental and physical injuries in order to develop more appropriate treatment plans for mental illnesses.  


Lack of Time

Mental healthcare providers may not have enough time to conduct a thorough assessment of mental illness patients and the wait times for specialists may be too long. This can lead to mental illnesses that are not properly treated and can discourage patients that mental health services will treat them.


Lack of Mental Health Literacy

Despite mental healthcare being a booming industry, many mental healthcare providers do not receive sufficient education; they lack the knowledge to diagnose mental disorders in different cultures across the globe, and often have no experience when it comes to treating these disorders. Not only does this make it difficult for some patients to seek out proper treatment, programs are started without any form of research or clinical data to support mental healthcare treatments, which can be very risky.



What Organizations Can Do To Strengthen Mental Health Care in the Future


These mental health services are one of the things that make mental healthcare such a booming industry, but mental health practices can still be strengthened and improved upon. One way organizations can improve mental healthcare is by investing in mental healthcare products and therapies for patients with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. With more funding, mental healthcare providers can pay mental illness specialists to attend training workshops on how to treat different mental illnesses – which would also help them get a better understanding of these conditions so they can easily diagnose their clients without worrying about getting sued for improper treatment. Another option is offering treatment programs that include not only mental illness specialists, but other professionals from mental healthcare fields such as mental health counselors or mental health coaches. Combining mental illness specialists with mental healthcare professionals may not only increase the services offered to clients, but it will also help sufferers find a support system they can rely on in stressful situations and difficult times.

Another way organizations can assist mental healthcare is by providing early intervention programs that allow mental illness specialists to work with younger patients before their conditions get out of hand. Aside from providing more resources for mental healthcare businesses , this type of program would be less daunting and often less expensive than trying to treat children who already have serious mental illnesses. This means that there would also be fewer costs in treating these cases because many young patients do not require medication, just attention and mental healthcare.

By expanding mental health services, providers can help sufferers get the attention and treatment they need. Expanding mental health services is only a part of improving mental healthcare and there is still much research to do when it comes to  treatments, but organizations all over the world are taking strides in the right direction by providing patients with better mental healthcare services.

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