“Another Call for Help”
We have an urgent request for you. For decades, we have been experiencing a mental health crisis. This crisis is growing rapidly by the day. While cures have been discovered for many physical health diseases, mental health conditions have been treated with a lack of respect. What our scientific community has done is basically placed bandages onto gaping wounds, expecting them to hold. It is finally coming to light that many mental health conditions could actually be brain diseases.
The good news is there are many discoveries coming to the surface. Recent discoveries have shown the possibility of various biomarkers which can potentially predict the onset of certain mental health conditions as well as suicidal behaviors. Biomarkers would suggest a biological indicator (predisposition) for mental health conditions and suicide. With this knowledge, it’s clear that genetics are responsible for predisposing many of us to mental health conditions. In the same way genetics predisposes many to diabetes, genetics also predisposes many others to mental health conditions.
Think of the advancements we’ve made in the area of diabetes and other diseases deemed as physical! Why haven’t we done the same in the area of mental health ???
The short answer is a lack of funding. The sad, but true, answer is that many still believe mental health conditions aren’t as important as other conditions and diseases.
This is a shame, considering that approximately 20-25 percent of our population in the United States suffers from some form of a mental health condition, and considering that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in our young people ages 10-34, only following accidental deaths. Many reports state that suicide is under reported because of the stigma attached to it. If this is the case, which we believe to be so, suicide numbers are far higher than reported. The fact that our funding for research is so low is inexcusable.
(It’s important to note just how underfunded we are in this area. According to the NIH data since 2008 on funding for all conditions and diseases, mental health conditions, as well as suicidal ideation, are funded at a far lower amount than physical diseases.)
Within the past year, a group of us from different parts of the United States have begun to advocate for change. Our group’s primary goal is to increase funding into finding the biological factors causing mental health conditions and suicide in hopes of discovering cures. Our group currently is comprised of medical professionals, social services, teachers, a counselor and geneticist. We have already begun our campaign to increase funding by contacting and meeting with members of Congress from our states.
As a result of one of our meetings with a congressman, the congressional liaison for NIMH was contacted regarding federal research funding to investigate potential genetic and epigenetic biomarkers which could provide early diagnosis of mental health conditions. NIMH is currently investigating our questions regarding the specific dollar amounts dedicated to discovery of biomarkers for mental health conditions. They have also forwarded our questions and concerns to Congresswoman DeGette.
In another meeting with a representative, we were put into contact with a medical university currently conducting research into genetics in relation to mental health conditions. A separate meeting with another congressman resulted in a request to the appropriations committee for further funding into research.
Our group has had, and is continuing to have, other endeavors. These include education on mental health issues in our schools, medical communities, and social communities to reduce stigma and to target mental health concerns early on. Two of our members have also founded their own non-profit organizations: https://chcfbrain.org/ whose mission is to accelerate research in biomarkers for early diagnosis of high risk mental health conditions (MHC) and to develop novel targeted curative therapies based on molecular causes of MHC discovered through epigenetic and genetic research, and https://www.waltswaltz.com/ whose mission is to serve as a compass and a megaphone for mental health support, education, and change.
So, how can you help???
Contact your local legislators to let them know that you are advocating for more funding to go into research into the biological causes of mental health conditions and suicide. You can email them, request a meeting with them (either in person or virtual), request a telephone meeting with them, etc. Let us know if we can be of help!
Our members will gladly join you in attending a meeting with any legislator, if you would feel more comfortable. As mentioned, we have already met with members of Congress in our areas, some in person and some via zoom. If you would like a sample letter to your legislator(s), you can find one on this blog site, under the tab “Contact Your Legislators”. We are also providing a link so you may see who your area legislators are.
One other thing – If you would like to join our Facebook group, please request to join. We would love your input! https://www.facebook.com/groups/mentalhealthresearch