Study shows many mental health needs go unmet

Psychiatrists’ first large-scale assessment of the general population shows nearly 30 percent need mental health care and about one-third of them get it.

The study focused on Baltimore, where a team of psychiatrists interviewed 816 people between 1993 and 1999.

They found the greatest need was treatment of alcohol dependence, nearly 14 percent, and major depression, nearly 11 percent.

“There are a lot of people who need psychiatric care who aren’t getting any,” says. Dr. Erick Messias. “There is a constellation of factors keeping people away from that care. This translates into people suffering for years, when there is a solution.”

The study looked at the most common mental health problems, social phobia, panic disorder and agoraphobia – in addition to depression and alcohol dependence. These problems may not require medication but could benefit from treatment, from psychotherapy to programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, he says.

Acknowledging that it can be difficult for individuals to decide they need any level of mental health care, Dr. Messias says there are some key indicators. “I always ask patients how they sleep, because the way you sleep tells me a lot about how well you are,” he says. “If you are so tired you are sleeping all the time or you can’t sleep, that’s a sign that something on your mind is not letting you relax.” Work and personal relationships are two other good indicators. “If you can love and work, you probably will do fine.”

From a press release of the Medical College of Georgia



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