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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Scientific study needs more study

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One in five Americans suffer from mentally illness. Or at least that's the finding from a recently-released report from government researchers.

Now over the years, I have grown increasingly wary of "government studies" because I suspect that too often the studies simply reflect the thinking of the researchers. But that's an opinion, not necessarily a fact.

Yet if this study is to be believed, then it clearly answers the question that surrounds a host of social issues we face daily.

The numbers are truly staggering. More than 45 million Americans could be classified with some form of mental illness. And to make matters much worse in my opinion, young adults post the highest rate of mental illness at 30 percent.

But digging deeper into the numbers, the real culprit is depression. One third of these mental illness categories are from those who report some level of depression.

I most certainly don't want to enter a debate on the severity of depression but the fact is that depression comes in all shapes and sizes. And to generalize that all forms of depression fall into the mental illness category is, at best, misleading.

To help bolster the "big government" argument, the report says that rising unemployment has pushed many Americans into the category of depression and that only added government insurance coverage will solve the problem.

But surely there is a difference between depression that takes the form of unhappiness and depression that brings that dark cloud and renders its victims virtually helpless. I would suspect that many experience some form of mild depression while a much smaller number fall into the helpless category.

Yet this study makes no distinction.

The older you are, the less likely you'll report some form of mental illness. Perhaps that's because with age comes acceptance. Perhaps through experience of age we learn that life is what you make it. Those minor setbacks in life are simply part of the process of living. You learn from them and you move on.

If this study is to be believed, once again, then the greatest medical challenge facing this nation is not one of the dozens of illness that gain our attention but rather the silent issue of mental illness. Therein lies my real problem.

If you want to play the pessimistic role, then you take these study numbers and combine them with the array of other "problems" facing this nation and you end with a portrait of massive failure, disarray and doom.

That's why I take this study with a massive grain of salt. Call me crazy. You wouldn't be the first!



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen