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Vulnerable Populations Essay

1286 words - 6 pages

Vulnerable Populations
Tiffani Adams
August 1, 2011
Stacy Townes

Vulnerable Populations
The term Mental Illness covers a wide variety of disorders ,which can be mild to severe in nature. These disorders cause a breakdown in thoughts and behaviors making it difficult to impossible for a person to cope with daily life. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness (Mental Health America, 2011) and include different forms of depression and other emotional disorders, anxiety disorders, dementia, and personality disorders. It is estimated that there are more than 50 million Americans living with one form of mental illness or another.
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With more and more people continually seeking help for mental illness we now know that as many as one in five people have some form of mental illness. Unlike in the past where any person who displayed signs of a mental illness was diagnosed as being mentally ill now a person must exhibit a group of signs and symptoms that interfere with their ability to function on a daily basis. Current data indicates that approximately 20% of the U.S. population has a diagnosable mental illness (Surgeon General, n.d.). Statistics among inmates are slightly higher showing as many as 114 of every 100,000 commit suicide while incarcerated as a result of mental illness. This shows a direct link between mental illness and societal issues such as addiction, domestic abuse and other forms of violence, as well as crimes such as theft.
Childhood mental illness is not as well documented as mental illness in adults; this is partly because it is more difficult to diagnose these disorders in children and in part because not as much research has been done. With that said current statistics show that as much as 20% of children in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness which includes a population of five to nine percent with severe functional limitations (Surgeon General, n.d.). The difficulty in diagnosing children stems from multiple factors including lack of research, constant hormone shifts as children grow as well as different stages of development causing shifts in personality. The one positive side of a diagnosis of a mental illness in childhood is that many will likely outgrow the disorder by adulthood. This is not true in every case and appears to be more prevalent with more mild diagnosis such as anxiety and depression. As with childhood mental illness the documented cases in populations over 55 is lacking, more research needs to be done to gain a firm grasp on the actual numbers. Right now the estimated numbers stands at about 19% of the over 55 population with approximately four percent having a severe functional limitation. One thing is for certain, no matter the age or demographic of those who suffer from mental illness one of the most critical elements of treatment is a good support system. Those who feel as though their recovery and symptom management matter to others around them are much more likely to seek and continue with treatment.

There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness; the main categories are Anxiety disorders, Depression and Bi-Polar disorder, Schizophrenia, Dementias, and Eating disorders. Some people only suffer from one of these disorders at any one time but for many who have severe limitations from mental illness, they often suffer from multiple conditions at the same time. This often makes diagnosing and treating these disorders a complicated and time consuming process. There is no easy fix for mental illness and not every person responds to...

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