How to Help People Who Aren’t Getting Psychiatric Care They Need

By  //  January 22, 2019

In Adelaide, South Australia, authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the release of mental health patients who ended their lives shortly after being discharged from healthcare facilities.

Such issues are not unique to mental healthcare patients in Adelaide. In the United States, CNN reports that emergency rooms are flooded with psychiatric patients who feel as if they have nowhere else to turn – and in some cases, they’re being treated poorly and inadequately.

Significant numbers of people around the world are not getting the mental healthcare service they need. Let’s examine the reasons for this, along with some possible solutions that could ease these challenges.

A Shortage of Qualified Mental Healthcare Professionals

Multiple sources report that a shortage of qualified mental healthcare professionals is the greatest challenge global citizens face in providing our people with needed mental healthcare services. 

In the United States, the Children’s Hospital Association cites workforce shortages as being one of the most critical barriers to providing mental and behavioral health services to children.

They claim that, in 42 states in the USA, there is greater demand for child psychiatrists than there are professionals available in practice. Megan Ford at the UK-based website observes that the shortage of mental healthcare nurses is the greatest hurdle in providing British children with the mental health services they need.

One obvious solution is to train more mental healthcare professionals. Indeed, academic institutions around the globe are adding new degree programs to their course catalogs to meet rising demand.

In July of 2018, Australia’s Southern Cross University announced new Mental Health and Mental Health Nursing online Master and Graduate Diploma courses.

According to Professor John Hurley, who is a Course Coordinator at SCU online, the Master of mental health nursing degree program results in knowledgeable graduates who can qualify to become credentialed mental health nurses.

Professor Hurley emphasizes that the availability of this credentialing makes the program an exciting option for nurses who want to transition into the field of mental healthcare.

In the United States, multiple academic institutions have announced new degree programs to encourage new enrolments from aspiring mental healthcare professionals. Some universities, such as the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, are revamping available programs to provide accelerated graduation time frames.

Stigma Surrounding Mental Healthcare

Some people with mental health disorders resist seeking treatment because of the stigmas surrounding psychiatric health treatments. This is not an issue that’s easily solved.

One possible solution is to increase awareness through public dialog about the mind-body connection. Clinical research is revealing a blurry line between physical health and mental health.

As it turns out, the connection between severe mental health disorders and physical ailments is real – and it’s an alarming one. This is because the combination of mental and physical ailments results in a 60 percent increase in mortality rates for affected patients. These people have life expectancies that are shorter than average by a range of 13-30 years.

Physical ailments don’t just affect mental health patients with severe disorders. They often manifest in mental health patients with milder issues as well. Researchers have discovered an undeniable connection between poor diet and poor mental health. Research has also revealed that emotions affect physical health.

Correctly addressing patients’ physical health ailments could be a possible first step in alleviating the stigmas they feel and solving some of their most mystifying and challenging mental health issues.

For example, there’s evidence to suggest that magnesium deficiency is likely to cause or contribute to a number of mental disorders ranging from apathy to depression.  There is no stigma associated with taking magnesium tablets, and no prescription is needed for magnesium.

Greater awareness of the link between magnesium deficiency and mental health disorders is needed. Magnesium supplementation is one possible solution that could help mental health patients bridge the gap between their mental and physical health issues in a way that’s both beneficial and free of stigma.

William J. Resch, DO, who is a Columbus, Ohio-based osteopathic psychiatrist, points out that patients can also enhance their mental wellbeing through the physical activities they participate in.

He suggests that patients with mild depression and anxiety issues are likely to find solutions for such mild disorders without resorting to psychiatric medications.

As a first line of defense, people can encourage mental health patients to take care of their bodies through proper nutrition and adequate physical exercise.

In some cases, the mental issues may resolve on their own when the patient’s physical issues are properly treated. This can help to reduce the strain on the overburdened mental healthcare system, freeing up more resources for treating patients whose health issues are truly more mental than physical.