Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis by Rosalyn Carter

Anyone who works in a health related field knows there is an inextricable link between our mental and physical health.  What is not as widely known or understood is how prevalent and widespread the issue of mental health issues are, and how significantly it can affect a persons quality of life.  Rosalyn Carter’s book aims to educate and inform on the mental health crisis we face in the United States.

It’s not uncommon for people to think of mental health diseases as those things that affect only a very small minority of the population.  Mental health issues are often times thought of as limited to diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  In truth, mental health issues are varied and widespread.  It is estimated that depression alone is responsible for 400 million sick days EACH YEAR.  Wow.  I have to admit, when I was fresh out of school, I was taken by surprise at just how many clients I was working with who were struggling with some form of mental illness.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with mental health issues in the U.S.  The reasons for that are complex.  We live in a society where things can be  measured.  As the author points out, we rely on blood tests and ultrasounds and x-rays to measure and quantify various conditions.  It’s not so clear-cut when it comes to mental health.

Rosalyn Carter has dedicated decades of her life trying to bring light to this issue and advocate for support services for those who need it.  Her book does a great job of providing an overview of the complexity of the problem that mental health issues pose to our society.  It’s everyone’s problem, as she states in her book.  She discusses the need for access to quality care, insurance parity, and how culture and geography can affect how mental health diseases are dealt with.  She provides a great overview of the scope of the problem.

What is the most concerning issue that she describes repeatedly throughout the book is the increased risk a person with a mental illness has for premature death from other problems and diseases that are not managed due to their mental illness.  It’s this reason alone that I feel this is a must-read book for professionals who work with clients or patients as they try to help provide them with a better quality of life.

Anyone and everyone can suffer from mental health issues, and this book provides a great introduction and overview of the state of our nation’s mental health problems.  I recommend that anyone who plans to ever review a medical history as part of their profession read this book.

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