Changing Attitudes when it comes to Mental Illness

Changing Attitudes when it comes to Mental Illness

10.09.12 | By Preet Bilinski

The stigma that surrounds mental illness remains a challenge. It can be difficult even for patients to accept and understand their diagnosis. So this week we join others in the mental health community participating in Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Mental illness places a heavy burden on patients. The stress associated with coming to terms with a diagnosis; not being able to carry out one's usual activities, and struggling with for instance darkness and sadness, all contribute significantly to the burden of mental illness. This affects not only the patients' quality of life, but also that of their families and friends. The time and resources that family members have to spend in order to compensate for and help with the consequences of mental illnesses must also be considered. For society in general, the illnesses also have major economic consequences. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), serious mental illnesses cost the U.S. more than $317 billion annually in lost wages, health care expenditures and disability benefits. Adherence to life-enhancing medicines is critical if we seek to continue to improve the mental health of patients and the U.S. economy.

Our knowledge and understanding of the brain are expanding all the time, and in both human and economic terms we simply cannot afford not to improve. The biopharmaceutical research industry is working intensively to develop new and better treatments. Their focus remains on helping patients and advancing medical innovation so that the nearly 200 medicines in development for mental illness can make even greater progress in the fight against these diseases. A recent WebMD survey of influential health care experts ranked mental illness treatments among the most important medicines ever made. We celebrate the fact that nearly 60 million Americans living with some form of mental illness such as schizophrenia, anxiety and depression have access to safe and effective treatment options that can help them lead healthier, more productive lives. Confronting mental illness will require continued collaboration in the scientific, medical and patient care communities and we are excited about the possibilities the future holds. Hear more from Dr. Stevin Zorn, the Executive Vice President of Lundbeck Research USA.

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