Now we can talk about mental illness

This doesn’t get talked about much, but the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage for people with mental health problems – care that would have been eliminated if the republicans had their way. Psychiatric illnesses are surprisingly common, yet receive little attention because they are stigmatized, misunderstood, and definitely not especially photogenic.

Think about this:  20 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. That’s more than 40 million potential voters. So when you think about it, things like depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD,  or addiction are not issues that affect anonymous strangers. These conditions face many around us at work, school and  home, even though those who struggle with mental illness often do so in silence.

Not long ago the Los Angeles Times carried a piece entitled “Mental health care at stake in 2012 vote.” It said that “Just to provide a little context, according to the American Cancer Society’s latest numbers, about 12 million Americans are living with some form of cancer; 400,000 Americans suffer from multiple sclerosis; 1 million from Parkinson’s and 1.2 million are living with HIV/AIDS. So 40 million is a significant constituency of sick people. But mental illness isn’t pretty and nobody wants to bring someone suffering with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia up to the podium at a political convention.”

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