Dear Madame President,
I am a senior currently enrolled at Sun Prairie High School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. I am writing this letter on behalf of those who have, or know someone who has, a mental illness. Mental illness is an issues that plagues more than a few people in our society. It not only affects those who have it, but also the loved ones around them. There is not enough being done to help people who suffer from mental illness and there is not enough awareness about this problem that plagues our society. I have personal experience dealing with a loved one who suffers from a mental illness, and so I am aware of some of the struggles that come with this.
My father suffers from a mental illness and for so long we were unaware of what was wrong, that anything was wrong, but over time it started to add up. The bizarre behavior, irritability, mood swings, hallucinations, and the voices all pointed to one thing — Schizophrenia. We didn’t know that my dad was sick; no one in my family knew anything about this mental illnesses and according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, Schizophrenia only affects approximately 1.1 % of our world's population. It’s so rare, how could we have known?
While Schizophrenia is very rare it is also a very severe mental illness. It is a lifelong disease and can be treated but there is no known “cure”. A survey done by The National Institute of Mental Health in 2010 reported that an estimated 45% of people in the U.S with Schizophrenia haven’t received any treatment within the last year. The longer schizophrenia is left untreated the more brain tissue is lost, the more damage is done. It was very difficult to convince my father to receive treatment, taking many years to persuade him it was the right treatment; he was so lost in his own world and separated from reality. Finally he has started to receive antipsychotic treatment, and though he will never be the same, it will help him to live a productive and fulfilling life.
This isn’t a problem that just affects a few people. The Treatment Advocacy Center reports that approximately one third of the homeless population is comprised of people suffering from an untreated psychiatric illness. A study done by the World Health Organization has revealed that “1 in 4 people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at one point in their lives” worldwide. This is something that is affecting many people, so awareness needs to be made about mental illness, such as it being taught in schools. Too many people who suffer from mental illness are left untreated simply because they aren’t aware or it’s too expensive. We as a society have an obligation to help provide treatment for people who suffer from mental illness. Awareness has to be made about these different illnesses so that they can be caught sooner, causing less harm to the people who have them and the loved ones surrounding them.
Thank you for your time,