New research from the University of Michigan has found that more than seven million children and teenagers have a mental health disorder that is currently going untreated. Navigating early adulthood is hard enough as it is, but doing so with a mental illness can pose additional challenges along the way. Millennials and Gen Z are demanding innovative treatment options.
Across the country, colleges are providing new mental health counseling services to their students. Kent State University, Jefferson Community College, and Ohio State University have all increased the size of their programs while UCLA has started a “resilience peer” system. Resources are aimed at “finding the most effective interventions for the largest number of students as quickly as possible.”
Creative solutions can also be found outside of college campuses. “R U OK?”, an entertainment group which uses poetry, comedy, and music held its first conversation geared towards mental health awareness last week in Charlotte, North Carolina. The performers believe that engaging the audience in this creative way sheds a new light on the often stigmatized subject.
Nicole Fisher, President of Health & Human Rights Strategies, recently pointed to technological innovation in the mental health field. In the age of smartphones, young people are more inclined to reach for their iPhone for help than actual mental health professionals. Dr. Nelson Handal created CliniCom as a way to provide “personalized medicine” in the best way possible for Millennials and Gen Z. The website provides online assessment tools which have proven to reliably determine type and severity of mental illness.
At the end of the day, close to one in five adults are coping with mental illness according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental health issues touch every community—the rich, the poor, every race, age, and gender. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health prevents people from ever seeking treatment.
The gap in diagnoses and seeking treatment is alarming. Unresolved issues can be detrimental to younger generations. Daniel Whitney, Ph. D., adds that “Untreated mental health disorders can have a debilitating impact on children’s healthful growth and throughout their transition to adulthood.”
With it being such a common issue, you would think that there would be many options when seeking help for a mental illness. This is not generally the case. I hope to see more creative, non-traditional options, surface as we continue to understand the scope and severity of this issue.