American culture often praises individuals who are able to overcome adversity and find success. Many Americans grow up believing anything is possible and that everyone should be able to succeed. This notion, however, wrongly assumes that all Americans start out on the same level playing field. In more realistic terms an individual's upbringing, economic status and genetics all play an enormous role in shaping their future. While it's nice to think that all things are possible for all individuals, this way to thinking is often damaging to many, including individuals who suffer with mental illness.
For individuals living with a mental illness being teased or ostracized as a child because of their differences can have long-lasting and damaging effects. In many cases, these individuals continue to suffer well into adulthood and many never receive the help they need to manage their illness and control adverse symptoms. As a result, many who suffer from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and chronic depression struggle to form and maintain relationships and hold a steady job.
President Obama recently held a National Conference on Mental Health at which he discussed the need to address mental illness and bring the topic "out of the shadows". The all-day conference was in response to growing concern that many individuals suffering from mental health issues are not being diagnosed or receiving the treatment they so desperately need.
Those who took part in the conference are hopeful that through increased awareness and funding more Americans will both reach out for and receive the treatment they need to manage their mental illnesses. In many cases, a combination of prescription medication and therapy is effective in helping individual sufferers learn to identify, control and manage adverse side effects commonly associated with many mental disorders.
Source: USA Today, "Obama: Bring mental illness 'out of the shadows'," David Jackson, June 3, 2013