The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

The long reach and high toll of mental-health problems

Rose Carter, former First Lady of the United S...
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The weak economy and its accompanying tensions can test anyone’s resilience. But for people who are prone to depression and related ills, it sometimes doesn’t take much to upset a delicate balance. Two studies out this week reveal what are often the sobering effects of psychological problems on the people who suffer from them. Meanwhile, a new book from former First Lady Rosalynn Carter challenges the U.S. to improve how treats its emotionally troubled citizens.

Adults who suffered from conditions such as depression or substance abuse during their childhoods are less likely to be married, have a half-year less of schooling than their counterparts who didn’t face such obstacles and earn about 20% less income over their lifetimes, according to a new study from Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group in Santa Monica, Calif. It found that people’s childhood psychological disorders cost them a collective $2.1 trillion because of their reduced capacity to work and make money later on as adults.

“This study shows childhood psychological disorders can cause significant long-lasting harm and can have far-reaching impact on individuals over their lifetimes,” James P. Smith, the study’s lead author and Rand’s Corporate Chair of Economics, said in a statement. “Our findings illustrate what the enormous potential might be of identifying and treating these problems early in life.”

Researchers followed siblings from about 5,000 families and compared how those with psychological disorders fared in many indicators of economic success compared with their non-affected brothers or sisters over several decades.

The major findings: People who reported childhood psychological issues earned an average $10,400 less per year and were 11 percentage points less likely to marry (and typically married lower-income spouses when they did wed) than their siblings who were free of such past mental-health ills. Recurring psychological problems appeared to account for some of the economic shortfalls, researchers found.

“Not all of the people who have psychological problems during childhood will carry these problems into adulthood,” Smith cautioned. “But they are 10 to 20 times more likely than others to have these shortfalls during adulthood.”

Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on violent deaths that showed there were 9,245 suicides in 16 states in the year 2007, before the recession began. Suicide rates were higher among Native Indians and Alaska Natives and among Caucasians, the report found. In a departure from previous surveys, the suicide rate was highest among people age 45 to 54. (People 80 and older typically had the highest U.S. suicide rate.) Mental health and substance abuse problems, as well as relationship, job and financial issues, often preceded the suicides.

Suicide appears in the top five leading causes of death in children and adults ages 10 to 54, according to CDC statistics.

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a longtime advocate for mental-health care, says the U.S. can do more to help troubled people turn their lives around and avert more tragedies.  […]

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May 28, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] The long reach and high toll of mental-health problems « The … […]

    Pingback by most important issues or concerns would be for a health care worker caring for an elderly patient? | May 28, 2010 | Reply

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