As Mental Health Month continues to unfold throughout May, many organizations are taking much-needed action to better address the deeply connected issues of mental health and addiction.
We are thrilled to see these organizations taking action, and have posted previously about the need to properly recognize and treat co-occurring disorders. To inspire increased awareness and policy reform around depression and addiction specifically, Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) announced a partnership with the NOW Campaign, a national non-partisan initiative that pushes for improvements in mental health and addiction policy.
A core part of the alliance’s rally for change is a six-part candidate pledge that it is asking presidential candidates, other policy makers, and influential business leaders to take to ensure that increased access, innovation, and integration are part of a new approach to transforming mental health and addiction treatment.
With the presidential election fast approaching, the two organizations are attempting to build grassroots support – and political will – that will set a new direction in our systems of care. And they bring a unique combination of passion for the issue and understanding of the political and policy landscape to the fight.
FFDA is a national non-profit dedicated to helping families who are dealing with a loved one living with depression or bipolar disorder. They offer a host of helpful resources that help families recognize these disorders, understand that there is hope and treatment for loved ones suffering, and provide tips to guide family interactions and interventions. Their collection of personal stories helps families to see the various manifestations of depression and offer positive recovery portraits. And their podcasts and workshops provide engaging and educational content on a variety of issues related to depression, symptomology, and the road to wellness.
The Now Campaign is co-chaired by former Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad – a long-standing advocate for addiction, disability, and treatment issues during his tenure on Capitol Hill – and Patrick Kennedy, the well-known former Rhode Island Representative who chose to come forward with his and his family’s history of mental health and substance use disorders in a book, “A Common Struggle,” released in 2015.
Kennedy has gone on to be an outspoken voice calling for better education and more compassionate care for those with these common issues. He shares a powerful personal message, and has many good things to say about the connection between brain chemistry, uncomfortable mood and physiological symptoms, and the impulse to self-medicate, as well as the dangers of shame and remaining silent about the problem.
Mental health conditions and addiction touch the lives of millions of Americans, with about 18 percent adults and 13-20 percent of children and teens experiencing a mental health condition in any given year. Studies show that people diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely as the general population to also suffer from a substance use problem.
Statistics from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate close to 8.4 million adults in the United States have both a mental and substance use disorder. However, only 7.9 percent of people receive treatment for both conditions, and 53.7 percent receive no treatment at all.
We hope that this new partnership will help to finally turn the tide in the way these two related disorders are not only talked about, but addressed.