According to the National Institute of Health, 26 percent of the American population suffers from a mental health disorder in a given year. Twenty six percent! That’s an extensive amount of people. So out of 319 million people, 83 million people suffer from a mental illness in the United States alone.
But this article is not about the 83 million currently getting diagnosed, and treated. This article is about those that are left. The 236. The 236 million people in the United States who do not fit into one of the three categories of professionals, in order to see a mental health practitioner.
As a holder of a MD myself, I can attest that psychiatrist are great practitioners of the mental health field. They serve as a way to create pathways, with medications in order to restore functionality to a patient. Psychiatrist are highly involved when the illness is impairing a function of the patients daily life. Examples include severe depression not allowing for the patient to get out of bed and go to work. Progressive dementia, not allowing the patient to get home due to memory loss. Schizophrenia, perceiving sights, and sounds that are not there. These all inhibit the normal function of a human being. The key here is loss of function.
These are excellent health care practitioners. They help out the functioning individual to work out an area of ones life to avoid a dysfunction. These are what we call “counselors”. If your marriage is undergoing a drastic change, you can see a counselor to help the marriage not turn into a non functioning marriage, and divorce. The issue with this is that along the way, you will find yourself with tons of patterns that can lead to dysfunction. There also is the risk of opening up old wounds that are already healed. Codependency is a huge issue and risk when it comes to counseling and therapy.
3. Life Coaches:
Life coaches are a new trend. It seems like everyone is one. All you need to do is get certified online. No degree, no background check. Just open up your practice and start a marketing campaign. To be honest, my barber is a life coach. I am bald. That should tell you about what I think about most of them. I strongly believe that if you do not have a background training in mental health, you should not be giving clients advice. This could actually be a very dangerous thing. As you can project your own life traps into other people in an inappropriate and scarring matter.
So where does that leave the rest of us? The fully functioning individuals who simply need someone to talk to, with a mental health background, yet do not need to see a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. This is what I mean by the 236 million. I believe there is a huge gap in the system. This gap is for people who have a job, a car, a dog, two kids, and a wife/husband…..but still want to talk to someone in order to endure/overcome/surpass an obstacle in their life. Where is the help for the sports player who needs help after a defeat, or is transitioning out of the industry? Where is the help for the dad that just lost his job, but needs someone to talk to once, maybe twice before starting his job search? Where is the help for start up professionals, who have a deadline, but feel stress about it?
I feel like there are a lot of instances that do not need us to take time off from work to see a primary care physician, to refer us to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. These are simple day to day obstacles that should be tackled with a rather simple conversation of encouragement, goal setting, and strategy.
I have a background from Rutgers in abnormal psychology, a MD from Ibero-American Medical School, continued education from Harvard in Quantitative Methodology, and lastly a consultant at Deloitte Consulting Group, currently the world’s top Business Management consulting firm. I divide my time with writing, psychological research, business strategy building, and working clinically with patients at a major hospital in the area. I am a problem solver, and I have a huge issue with how the mental health environment is running its course. It’s surely a broken system for the 26%. But we have been so worried about them, that we left out the other 74%, that need help and are inching towards the 26% if we do not create a strategy to help them.
I have been tackling this from all sides. Writing, researching, and speaking from patients to directors of psychiatry programs, trying to find out where we have failed in all this. I started this blog a couple of years ago to document my life as I transition from full time consulting to a combination of consulting, and clinical psychiatry. I find myself braining storming on ways to integrate both in order to solve a bigger problem that we need to handle today.
I want to work with you, the audience of the blog, and the rest of the world to create solutions to this problem. Mental health for the common soul. Those of us that have seemingly consistent lives, but need a little help.
I thought I should present this here first. We grew this blog from nobody…literally, to tens of thousands. It is officially being viewed on every continent and in over 90 countries around the world. I get comments, letters, and emails every day about situations, advice, or simply encouragement to continue on in the psych field. I feel like its time for what I am about to launch next. Within the next couple of months, I am going to be launching one of my life’s biggest venture. The main goal will be to help the bleeding and pain of those that need some short, and effective psych/life-coach/consulting. The goal is to start filling in that gap that is has left a hole in the health care system.
I am working with health care professionals to develop a system to help individuals, just like you and me, overcome obstacles. This system will use techniques from our past experience in abnormal psychology, our work in psychiatry, and our strategy background to create effective methods to overcome life’s simple challenges that at times drown us. I am excited, scared, yet passionate about this venture as I go into it with the hope of helping many.
I am not sure where this will all lead, but I have never failed at something that I have done with all my heart and the goal of helping others. I want to thank you all that have followed me throughout the last two years. May you continue to stay here for this awesome ride.