Dear Future President,
I am here to discuss a topic very dear to my heart that NO ONE seems to talk about or take into consideration, even though it is a growing crisis. Gender equality? No, although that is important. Homophobia? As much as I find that appalling, no. So what is it? It's simple. Mental health.
I beg to ask the question. Have you ever known someone with mental illness? You may say, "of course not!" Well, it may surprise you, but there's a good chance you do. 1 in 5 adults have a mental illness. That's over 40 million adults! Not 4 hundred, not 4 thousand, not 4 million, but 40. Million. That's more than the population of New York and Florida combined! And 13% of youths live with a serious mental illness. There was a drastic increase, youth depression being 8.5% in 2011 and increasing to 11.1% in 2014.
"But we have people like psychiatrists and therapists to help them!", you may say. To that, I simply say this. 60% of adults and 50% of youth who have a mental illness don't receive treatment. Some of it is due to lack of insurance, sometimes it's just a lack of help availability, but a lot of the time, it's because of the stigmatized society that surrounds them. 4 in 5 people think that it's harder to admit having a mental illness than other illnesses. It's valid! 1 in 2 people are afraid of mental illnesses, "psycho", "nuts", and "crazy" are the most common descriptions of mental illnesses, and mental illnesses are the most stigmatized illnesses. Speaking from experience, that's very true! I can't even talk to my mother about my depression and anxiety. Is this a society we want? Where teens can't even talk to the people they trust about their very real problems?
And finally, I feel, in this topic, it is important to discuss the 3rd leading cause of death in youth and the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Suicide. No one likes to talk about it. But it's necessary. According to Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, "The rate of suicide has gone up nearly steadily since 1999." A 24% increase, according to CBS. From 1999 to 2014, the number of suicide deaths has raised from 13 per 100,000 people. 90% of all who commit suicide had a mental illness, whether they knew it or not. As for the methods, 55% of men used firearms, while poisoning was the preferred means in women. Suffocation [choking, hanging, etc.] increased for both during the study. And if they survive, it doesn't mean that they won't try again. I know someone who has attempted suicide 26 times. And she's only 12.
I hope that you consider taking this into acknowledgement, as it is a serious topic. Mental health is important. I hope that we can someday treat it like any other illness.