Clinton’s Health Policy Will Reduce Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton’s recently released comprehensive health care policy offers a refreshing point of view.

Clinton is advocating that mental illness now be on par with physical illness. With statistics showing that one in four college students experiences a mental illness, the time has come to address those needs.

Clinton’s plan would  integrate the health system, affirming that the body should be treated as a whole, instead of separating physical health from mental health and prioritizing physical well being over mental health.

Although this is not an innovative move, mental health care in the U.S. can be hard to come by and people are often left ashamed and stigmatized. Part of the stigma about mental health results from its invisibility.

Clinton’s policy, if enacted, can begin to alleviate the stigmas associated with mental illness and get patients the treatment they need. Society must realize that mental illness, as “invisible” as it may be, does exist.

People routinely visit doctors to be screened for physical illnesses, but many try to self-treat mental illnesses with alcohol or drugs.

Without a doubt, mental illness can have a devastating impact on the quality of life and sufferers have a higher risk of some physical ailments such as chronic pain and nausea.

Doctors can try to treat the physical symptoms, but as long as mental health is not addressed, the treatment falls short.

Sufferers also carry a higher rate of attempting suicide which Clinton’s plan addresses by including a suicide prevention initiative. With more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year, our healthcare system is failing those with mental illness woefully.

Clinton is also proposing treatment rather than jail time for nonviolent, low-level offenders with mental illness and substance abuse problems. This step alone will decongest the nation’s prisons which are overcrowded with people who have addiction problems and mental illnesses, but do not present a threat to society.

Because these prisoners do not receive the treatment they need, they will often return to the lifestyle they held before once released. With intervention and treatment instead of jail time, offenders have a better chance of recovery as well as living healthier lives.

Even if Clinton’s health policy plan achieves nothing else, it would at least have heightened awareness on mental health and what is needed to remove the stigmas the mentally ill live with.

The reality is that people who struggle with depression, anxiety or any other mental illness are trying to fight back and regain control of their lives, just like those with other illness.

They deserve the right tools to win their fight.