Although millions of adults and children experience mental health disorders each year, only a fraction receive treatment from mental health counselors.
Mental health counselors play a critical role in helping people who are experiencing mental or emotional problems get their lives back on track. They assess, diagnose and treat people struggling with mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, stress, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions.
Mental health counseling is an important profession, one you can learn about online through Antioch University’s master’s degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Scope of problem
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States – that’s 43.8 million people – experience a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. For almost 10 million people, the condition is serious enough to affect their ability to function day to day. Children are not exempt: About 1 in 5 youth ages 13-18 experiences a severe mental disorder. Half of the 20.2 million adults who have experienced a substance abuse disorder had a mental illness at the same time. Significant percentages of America’s homeless, prisoners, and youth in juvenile justice systems live with serious or severe mental illness. [i]
Despite the growing prevalence of people with mental health issues, only 44 percent of adults and less than 20 percent of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive needed treatment. [ii]
The social and financial consequences of not treating mental health issues are significant. Serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Mood disorders are the third most common cause of costly hospitalizations in the United States for both youth and adults ages 18-44. [iii] Individuals with serious mental illness are at greater risk of developing chronic medical conditions. Sadly, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation – that’s 41,000 Americans, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide. [iv]
Shortage of professionals
The country faces a shortage of mental health professionals at a time when the demand for mental health services is growing. Fifteen of the nation’s 50 states – including California, Connecticut, Florida and 12 others ─ are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals, as defined by the federal government. That means millions of Americans with mental health issues are struggling on their own because of the lack of licensed clinical mental health counselors.
Making a difference
Fortunately, many people facing mental health issues can overcome or manage their symptoms with the guidance of mental health professionals. For those with severe mental illness, mental health counselors can help develop strategies and skills – such as coping mechanism – to minimize and manage the effects of their patients’ condition.
If you are ready to help others through a career in mental health counseling, consider Antioch University’s online master of arts program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. [vi] As a mental health counselor, you have the power to enhance the well-being of individuals and their communities.