US Mental Health – Professions, Health Issues in Children and Elderly

There are currently 5 recognized professions in the US mental health and mental health care:

  1. psychiatrists;
  2. clinical psychologists;
  3. psychiatric social workers;
  4. psychiatric nurses;
  5. counseling psychologists.

All of the above professions are linked by a similar training process and common ethical requirements for workers in this field. At the same time, there are also significant differences regarding education, the degree of independence in work and control by the state. Taken together, they form a nationwide and state coordinated mental health care delivery system.

Regulation and coordination of advantage behavioral health at the national level is carried out by nongovernmental professional organizations. They set the criteria for the required level of education and clinical training. At the state level, regulation occurs through the granting of licenses for independent practice in that state. To do this, the applicant must pass a rigorous examination, receive advice from professionals licensed to practice in the state, and adhere to the standards of professional ethics. If the established norms are violated, the state has the right to revoke the specialist’s license, thereby prohibiting the practice of independent practice.

Moral and ethical standards differing in details, established for the five specified professions, are based on a common belief in the fundamental value and uniqueness of each human person, the need to respect its rights and capabilities. Ethical principles also include requirements for professional development, personal dignity and dedication. The primary responsibility of the mental health worker is to provide care and ensure the rights of the patient, respect for medical confidentiality, and respect the patient’s decisions. Collegiality is equally important. Codes of conduct and mechanisms for assessing the ethics of actions have been developed for all five specialties.

Mental health advantages of children and adolescents

Most mental disorders, including those caused by substance use, begin in childhood. Thus, according to the US epidemiological study, 75% of all mental disorders begin before the age of 25; 40% of young people have experience of mental illness before the age of 16.

There is no reason to doubt that such statistics cannot be applied to other countries. The global burden of childhood illnesses, including behavioral and emotional disorders, developmental disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, prevails over other illnesses in children under 10 years of age.

The problem of teenage aggression is extremely relevant now in the USA. Through this prism, the whole spectrum of asocial actions of adolescents is often widely processed, including, in addition to violations of public order, hooliganism and acts of vandalism, alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as suicidal manifestations. The results of studies of the aggressiveness phenomenon in children and adolescents in psychiatry have shown that from 50% to 70% of adolescents who have committed aggressive delicts have mental disorders.

The group of children with developmental disorders, according to statistical data, averages from 4.5% to 11% (autism spectrum disorders, Kanner’s, Asperger’s and others, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and others). Approaches to specialized care for children with mental disorders should be based on the special conditions of upbringing, education and rehabilitation (psycho-orthopedic approach).

Mental Health organizations have developed a comprehensive program for the prevention of the mental illness spread among children and adolescents, which includes 4 main areas:

  • support of state and non-state non-profit organizations that provide preventive services;
  • training of volunteers from adolescents using the technology “peer educates peer”;
  • training of specialists, including teachers, school psychologists;
  • publication of educational literature.

Mental health of the elderly

Dementia is a general term used to denote a number of progressive diseases that negatively affect memory, other cognitive abilities and behavior, significantly limiting the patient’s ability to daily life. Dementia is known to increase long-term health care costs for governments, families and individuals, and results in lost productivity in national economies. In 2010, the global cost of dementia was estimated at US $ 604,000 million, and by 2030 it will be US $ 1,200,000 million.

According to the WHO discussion paper (revised September 5, 2016) containing the initial draft of the Global Public Health Action Plan for the Response to Dementia 2017–2025, in 2015 there were 47 million people with dementia worldwide (or approximately 5% of the world’s elderly population), and this figure, according to calculations, could grow to 75 million by 2030 and to 132 million by 2050.

According to the latest data, around 9.9 million people develop dementia worldwide every year, which means that a new case of the disease occurs every three seconds. Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability and addiction among older people around the world, with a significant impact not only on those affected, but also on their caregivers, family and society at large.