Hi, Everyone! Today’s post is a really important one- excited to have my friend Dakota Divinity, talented writer and devoted mental health advocate, contributing a guest post on the truth behind mental health care. This is a topic I care a lot about, one that affects an unreal of number of people from all walks of life!
According to Mental Health America, nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. Regarding treatment, 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive it. Even in Maine, the state with the best access, 41.4% of adults with a mental illness still do not receive treatment, due to fear of stigma.
With such high percentages of Americans suffering with each coming year, it’s about time that we pay closer attention. How do we do so, you may ask? I have a few suggestions of my own to offer to the conversation as well as part of my story as an individual who is all too familiar with mental illness and its demands.
The key suggestion that I have as mentioned briefly above, is increasing access to mental health resources and destroying barriers. Lack of access has lead to such an increasingly frustrating search for professional care for me, over the past three years. My experience with mental illness and managing care began in college. However, attending college in rural Potsdam, New York, made finding such care difficult. Resources and trained professionals were extremely limited, even with four colleges in the surrounding area.I can only speak for one of such available counseling services out of the four colleges, but I will be leaving the specific college unnamed.
While I was attending, the solution for the low counselor to student ratio at the time was to ship students to the nearby psychiatric facility for treatment and then consequently after the students return to campus, bar them from using the campus’s counseling resources again. I was told that this was due to the nature of situation now being deemed as “too serious” due to hospitalization. To be blunt, after experiencing having to be hospitalized for four days, I truly needed those services from the college afterward to help establish a steady readjustment period for care management. Not to mention, I was rather traumatized and scared from being hospitalized and taken an hour and a half away from campus with no cell phone, after being told that I would just be talking with an on-call campus counselor. From conversing with others on campus about my individual experience after returning, this was an all too common solution that the college had used to unpack the large number of students that were using their mental health services. As a point of reference, services were overloaded to the point of where a student could only receive one appointment a month, in order to accommodate all.
Being barred after hospitalization from in-reach treatment made matters even more difficult in a county with already lacking resources. I had no other choice but to attend my needed counseling sessions and have my medication prescribed from an office that was an hour and a half away from campus, each way. As a full time college student who was also working, this just was not a feasible option and was downright expensive. Who as a college student actually has $70 dollars to spend on an Uber or a taxi? It’s difficult enough to find a therapist that you are truly comfortable with, but when you add in the combination of potentially fighting with insurance over medication and visit coverage, perhaps having no insurance at all, lack of resources, and doctors that fail to seriously treat you because they believe that you are “far too young to be so depressed and/or anxious,” the fight becomes even more tiresome. I know that I felt completely invisible and my depression became worse, because I felt as though my needs and concerns were not listened to. I was yet another number, instead of an individual seeking treatment. I quickly gave up on writing, pushed people away, and worst of all, I gave up on myself.
For people of color, additional barriers to access are an even more common experience when attempting to receive mental health care. Disparities for minority groups include a lack of intersectional care, a lack of research on complexities and their intersections with multiple identities, (may include financial, disability, immigrant status) as well as low collaboration regarding federal funding organizations on the topics of racial and ethnic research. Because of this large gap in information, minority individuals may not realize the ongoing symptoms of mental illness, which could lead to potential failure to recognize when to begin seeking assistance for managing it. Misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment, and lack of cultural competence by health professionals can also cause further distrust among patients, and may prevent many from seeking or staying in treatment. This is yet another issue that needs to be addressed in the equation of revamping mental health services.
Mental health is just as important as taking care of physical health, regardless of being diagnosed with a mental illness or not. Both areas of health affect the body and the overall quality of life that an individual can have. As I can only speak for my own experience, I do feel as though it is critically important to keep advocating for ourselves and especially for those who do not have a voice. I choose to advocate by sharing my story, how you may choose to advocate may be completely different, but it is still just as valid. We can all learn something from one another and the struggles that we have endured. While we may have to keep fighting to have our needs seen, the greatest irony is that we are quite literally everywhere in society. We are your students, teachers, artists, musicians, bankers, doctors, lawyers, popular celebrity figures, the list continues on and on. We are practically everyone that you have met. One in five.
If you or someone you know needs help, please see to the following hotline numbers below or dial 911:
Adolescent Suicide Hotline-
Adolescent Crisis Intervention & Counseling Nineline–
Domestic Violence Hotline–
Domestic Violence Hotline/Child Abuse–
1-800-4-A-CHILD (800 422 4453)
Help Finding a Therapist–
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-
Panic Disorder Information Hotline–
Sexual Assault Hotline–
Suicide & Crisis Hotline–
The Trevor HelpLine
(Specializing in gay and lesbian youth suicide prevention)
A little more about Dakota Divinity:
Fresh off the heels of graduating with a dual History and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies majors, Dakota hopes to shed light on the power of voice as a form of activism.
“Stories incorporate unique lived experiences, and while I certainly can’t speak for anyone other than myself, I know that words can start and end movements”.
Check her out on Instagram and Facebook if you wanna network with a really cool person who’s going to do great things! As always, I feel blessed to be surrounded by people who stand for something and stick up for others.