Mental health affects every single individual on the planet. It can affect our daily interactions and how we choose to live. I am currently doing my co-op at Belmont Behavioral Health Hospital in northwest Philadelphia, so I recognize that the importance of mental health services is real and I have always dreamed of being a part of them.
My major is in psychology, and this internship has given me first-hand experience with things that I had only ever read about in books. For example, suicidal ideation among adults is increasing. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.8 percent of adults 18 or older in 2019 seriously thought about attempting suicide in the past year, up from 4.3 percent in 2018. This number is nearly one in 20, a surprising fact that shook my core.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, people were inside their homes more and restricted from activities that were considered normal or accepted in the past. Why is it so important to work in the behavioral health field? Well, I can write a whole book on why the work is so integral for communities, but here are only a few reasons.
According to the SAMHSA, in 2019, 24.5 percent of adults aged 18 or older had either a mental illness or a substance use disorder. These numbers add up and coincide with the belief that mental health services being accessible to all is effective. Medical insurance is minimal for less fortunate people, like those who are unhoused. Especially since the pandemic started, psychology has come under the spotlight as a response to how mental health issues have impacted the U.S. population.
Psychology is a broad major, and at Drexel, it has the most electives. As a result, you can take different routes, steering towards research or the clinical side of the field. These two settings can apply to the behavioral health field because it is widespread amongst the nation. The field is well-needed in every area because psychology affects everyone but does so in different ways, requiring specialization.
The SAMHSA’s 2019 survey states that over one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness — 51.5 million in 2019, or 20.6 percent of the adult population. Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degrees of severity, ranging from mild to debilitating. This statistic is extremely surprising, even though it is commonplace for many Americans.There are many leading causes prior to being diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
If someone identifies as an ally for the mental health community, this basically means that they are open to talk about their experiences and willing to give back to the community. The behavioral health field is vital and has always been prominent; people should be cognizant of what it takes to be in the field and give respect to these essential healthcare workers.
As a former biology pre-med major, the reason I switched into psychology was because I wanted to make a difference in the behavioral health field. Whether it be children, adolescents or adults, it is important to understand how mental health affects you and the necessity of accessible services..