Your Donation Can Change a Life, Save a Family, and Ignite Social Change
Dear Interested Consumer, Donor, and Corporate Partner:
This open letter serves as a starting point for building a dialogue about the prevalence of, and stigma surrounding, mental illness.
Imagine suffering every day from a debilitating life-long medical condition while feeling shame and judgment in the midst of your symptoms.
Envision how impossible seeking help would be.
Despite the fact that 1 in 17 adults suffer from a serious mental illness, less than 1/3 will receive life saving treatment due to intense social discrimination and stigma.
Through charitable investment we can make an impact and ignite social change. We can help those paralyzed by the unjust humility that comes along with having a mental disorder receive the treatment they so desperately need.
Through our partnership we can improve access to treatment and educate individuals on the facts about mental illness. Stigma exists when misconceptions create preconceived judgment. Only through education can these perceptions be corrected. Education on the definition of, the prevalence of and the social and societal impact of mental illness is desperately needed on a great scale to combat the stigma that surrounds the diagnosis of a mental disorder.
A mental disorder, or mental illness, is a condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of an individual. Mental disorders are generally defined by a combination of how a person acts, thinks, feels or perceives.
The prevalence of mental disorders is significant, and to many people, quite surprising. A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDCV) revealed that fifty percent (50%) of all Americans will be affected by a mental illness at some point in their lives. An estimated 26.2 percent of adults (about 1 in 4) experience a diagnosable mental disorder every year, and about 6 percent (1 in 17) has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder.
Many studies indicate that the costs associated with not receiving treatment far outweigh the actual costs of treatment. Even when the actual costs of treatment are included, the cost benefits of mental health treatment are profound. For instance:
- Depression increases the risk of dying from heart disease by as much as three-fold, and impairs self-care and adherence to treatments for chronic medical illnesses.
- Individuals with diabetes and co-morbid depression have healthcare costs that are 4.5 higher than individuals with diabetes without co-morbid depression.
- Mental health treatment reduces the need for hospital and emergency room services and improves health outcomes for people with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, cancer, and other serious illnesses.
- Studies have shown that persons not receiving mental health services visited a medical doctor twice as often for unnecessary care than persons receiving treatment.
- Major depression is associated with more annual sick days and higher rates of short-term disability than other chronic diseases. Employees suffering from depression have three times more sick days than non-depressed workers.
- Moreover, individuals with both back pain and depression use twice as many sick days and incur twice the healthcare costs as those with either problem separately.
Many studies show that spending money on mental health treatment not only reduces overall medical costs, but investing in mental health services also reduces:
- Emergency room visits and hospital stays. Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions, and die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
- The likelihood of being arrested or the likelihood of felony convictions. In many communities, the single largest provider of mental health services is the criminal justice system.
- Homelessness. An estimated forty-five percent of homeless persons suffer from mental illness. This translates into direct costs of tens of millions of dollars to tax payers in every community for everything from public assistance to emergency room and law enforcement costs. At any given time, there are many more people with untreated severe mental disorders living on our streets than are receiving care in our hospitals and treatment programs.
- Absenteeism, tardiness, on-the-job injuries, disagreements with supervisors, and disability in the workplace.
The social stigma associated with mental disorders is a widespread problem with many direct and indirect consequences.
- The U.S. Surgeon General (1999) stated that: “Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others.” Many people suffering from these disorders do not share their pain with family, friends, and most especially, with employers. In fact, employment discrimination is reported to play a significant part in the high rate of unemployment among those with a diagnosis of mental illness.
- Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering and disability associated with mental disorders. Some people believe those with serious mental illness cannot recover, or are to blame for their problems. One common belief associated with stigma is that those suffering from mental disorders are weak, need to toughen up, or just “get over it”.
- With many of the horrific violent incidents in the news, there is a growing social connection between mental illness and violence. One national survey found that a higher percentage of people rate individuals as displaying the characteristics of a mental disorder as “likely to do something violent to others”, compared to the percentage of people who are rating individuals described as “troubled”. In contrast, many studies paint a different picture and indicate that severe mental illness does not independently predict future violent behavior, on average, and is not a leading cause of violence in society. As a matter of fact, findings consistently indicate that it is many times more likely that people diagnosed with a serious mental illness will be the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence.
- The medical science of caring for people with mental illness is not perfect, nor is it perfect for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The biochemistry of the body is complex. While some illnesses, such as diabetes, which affects the pancreas and creates problems with biochemistry, are more socially accepted, a person with mental illness is stigmatized even though their brain undergoes the same challenges as a pancreas. Both struggle with the ability to regulate themselves in a healthy manner, and many people suffering from heart disease, cancer, or diabetes also struggle with compliance with treatment and lifestyle recommendations. Just as with other illnesses, with the right medications, therapy and social support, the symptoms of mental illness can go into remission.
Recovery refers to a process through which individuals are able to live, work, learn and participate fully in their communities and families. Recovery is based upon empowerment, respect, responsibility and peer support, and makes use of individualized, culturally competent, holistic and person-centered, strength-based strategies to promote progress toward a healthier life. Early screening and detection, medications, therapy and peer support can make a big difference. Treatment works and recovery is possible. Together we can actively help those discriminated for having a mental disorder receive access to the treatment they so desperately need.
Through our partnership we can educate individuals on the definition of, the prevalence of and the social and societal impact of mental illness that is desperately needed on a great scale to combat the stigma that surrounds the diagnosis of a mental disorder. Only through charitable investment are we able to make in impact and ignite social change.
As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Renaissance Health Foundation, Inc. is a social-benefit company focused on improving society by tackling the difficult and challenging issues of mental illness, the social stigma associated with mental disorders, improving collaboration between agencies and providers, and improving access to treatment through philanthropy.
We seek to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with our donors (individuals, corporate partners, and foundations) who invest their philanthropic funds to help us fulfill our Mission. We welcome your interest and involvement in Renaissance Health Foundation, Inc.
Renaissance Health Foundation, Inc.