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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69f3e0001Nearly a fifth of the people in the U.S. have a mental health condition. That’s over 43 million Americans and more than half lack access to care. In Ohio as with the rest of the country, the stats show mental health issues have been increasing over the last several years, and the state is either in line with or worse than the national average when it comes to those increasing rates. This series looks at the challenges that stand in the path to finding the support needed to find better mental health.

Why We're Focusing on Mental Health

More than a third of Ohio residents reported poor mental health in the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2017 report.

“For 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem.”

On March 6th, The Players’ Tribune published an article written by Cleveland Cavs center and forward Kevin Love. The team was off to a poor start for the season. He talked about the stress from that and from personal issues.  It came to a head during a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He wrote about his heart racing, not being able to catch his breath, and feeling like his mouth was chalk.  He ended up at Cleveland Clinic where they ran a “bunch of tests” but found nothing.

The truth:  Kevin Love had suffered a panic attack.

But he wrote he knew he couldn’t bury what happened.

The team connected him with a therapist.

Months later, Love shared his own story, and took a big step towards getting past the stigma and sharing his own struggle.

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Not alone
Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us have stories about a mental-health crisis.  It happens to our colleagues, our loved ones and ourselves.  It is not someone else’s problem.

This is a story that is common to more people than you would think.

In a 2017 report, Mental Health America found that nearly a fifth of the people in the U.S. have a mental health condition.  That’s over 43 million Americans, and more than half lack access to care.   

Graphic from Mental Health America's 2017 report.

Ohio is no different than the rest of the country; in some ways things are worse here.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2017, more than a third of Ohio residents reported that they had poor mental health.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issues a yearly Behavioral Health Barometer

In its most recent report based on data from a 2015 survey, the stats show mental health issues have been increasing over the last several years.

The state is either in line with or worse than the national average. More than half of Ohio residents say they have needs in dealing with mental health issues that aren’t being met.

A colleague.  A friend. A loved one.  Ourselves.
Many of us know somebody who is either struggling with a mental health concern or has been challenged in the past.  

Graphic from SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Barometer 2015 report.

We have stories to share.  We have experiences that are both distinct and yet universal. But all too often, there are a range of challenges to overcome.

  • Getting past the stigma, the perception by society that mental health issues are a deficiency instead of an illness no different than any other physical ailment
  • Finding the appropriate professional help
  • Determining the best course of treatment
  • Having the means to afford that help
  • Improving awareness among public safety officials about mental health
  • And knowing what the options really are when a mental health crisis is beyond your one’s own ability to deal

Beyond the stigma
We are striving for much in our reporting. We hope to provide information and connections to resources anyone can use to get there.  And most of all, we want to be a convener of a conversation, both on an intimate, one-to-one basis and amongst the larger community of Northeast Ohio.  Addressing mental health issues should be no different than seeking treatment for a physical health ailment.  We need to get past the stigma.  We want to help light the path to better mental health in Ohio.

Andrew Meyer is the Deputy Editor of News at Ideastream Public Media.