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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

New Study: 5 Million Californians Need Mental Help

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 3rd 2010

peopleA study that was just released by UCLA reported that 1 in 5 Californians (5 million) are in need of mental help and 1 million are in serious psychological distress and only 33% of these people are seeing treatment. This is just California; multiply that substantially to include all of America and then the world.

The report reminds us that "Aside from reducing overall years and quality of life, untreated mental illness has been associated with suicide, substance abuse, homicide, heart disease and other medical conditions, work or school problems, family conflicts, relationship difficulties, social isolation, poverty and homelessness."

Why are people not receiving mental help? There are multitudes of reason that have to do with gender, age, culture, race, among other factors.

However, an overarching reason was because of a lack of health insurance which may be changing a bit thanks to new mental health parity laws that require health insurance companies to cover mental health as they would physical illness.

Mental health is tricky because to the untrained or inexperienced eye it doesn't seem to constitute the immediacy of life and death as a heart attack might. However, lack of mental health may cost the state and country much more money in the end because of its insidious effect on people's physical health causing more sick days and inability to focus and be effective at work (or at home).

The problem is getting effective treatment. That's a difficult one since we're all human and while some therapists are more trained than others, there is also a critical factor which is the patient/therapist relationship that determines healing.

When it comes to community health care, when budgets get cut, as they are now, the administration at the Department of Mental Health cuts many forms of therapy and only focuses on a few different types which may not fit people's conditions. Therefore, there will be people who don't receive treatment because they don't fit into the cookie cutter designation of who needs service and inevitably we may be looking at many lawsuits down the road.

It will be interesting to see how mental health care emerges during these tumultuous economic times. Hopefully we move in the direction where there is greater availability seeing that at the end of the day, this will likely save money and lives.  

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Depression Symptoms, comment response - Lisa K Jackson - Aug 8th 2010

It is not uncommon for people with chronic illness to experience symptoms of depression. In fact there have been numerous studies indicating symptoms of depression contributes to slow medical recovery and vice versa. In no way does having symptoms of depression negate your medical condition. Is it possible your medical provider is suggesting an evaluation in an effort to treat the depressive symptoms so that you may find some relief from your medical symptoms as well? In some cases patients whose symptoms of depression are adequately treated find their medical symptoms are more manageable. Would you consider seeing someone who might be able to support you in improving your coping skills associated with your chronic pain and illnesses? I wish you all the best, Lisa Jackson, MA, LPCC, NCC, Behavioral Health Consutant

Depression Symptoms - - Aug 4th 2010

I went to a physical thearpist for an eval for a walker and/or a wheelchair.  I answered the question on my history report marking depression.  I see a new doctor who has never seen me before,  He immediately based on this mark on the history report made an appointment for me to see a physchiatric.  Mt medical conditon are physical, I have a sciatric nerve, 10 gait on the right side, hyperthryoidism 004, Graves Disease, Highblood, tremors of hands, poor vision in right eye (it pretrudes out 19 3/4 inches from the left eye.  Lumbar, Cervical and Thoric back damage, low bone density. Tell me what can a physiciat do for my condition.  I have no mental issued as stated above.  These probles are what God gave me and no type of mental-health medication will treat thest physical conditions.  I have been fighting my social security case, by attorney for four years.  I was em0ployed for 33 yrs for the City of Fresno.  None of the previous doctors wanted to list mt condition as "disability".  I know that mental health purpose if the get you wond up in the circle of mental health treatment.  I am not apply for SSI which is only for people who did not work, and this is a major factor for them to get approved.  However, the laws of social security does not support this action for working people.  So my theory, what do my doctor thinks he will accomplish.  No of them who are all interns under University of San Franciso can certify that I am disabled.  So why send me to a psy.  I am on all types of pain medication it does not help, but my mental stage, well  it in tack.  I never have been diagnosed with drugs usuage and my mind is not affected by any of this.  This is a case manager trying to keep her job.  I aint the one to be classified so that she can get her paycheck,  Hell I need my social security income to.  Can you reply to me on my comment,  Thanks


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