Mental Health is a big problem. Is therapy a good solution?
At Kip, our mission is to bridge the gap between what human beings need to heal and what they’re getting from the mental health industry today. We are inspired to get up each morning and pursue our mission, because mental health is a massive problem.
- 27% of U.S. adults experience a mental health disorder each year.
- The average American has a 47% chance of suffering from a mental health disorder during his/her lifetime.
- 55% of those who live to 75 will suffer from a mental illness — a statistic worth noting as the baby boomers approach this milestone in great numbers. 1
The problem grows when you break down the false divide between physical health and mental health. Not only is depression the leading cause of illness and disability, worldwide, 2 it is deeply linked to the leading cause of death in the United States:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Up to 66% of heart disease patients have a mental disorder — 44% suffer from major depression
- Heart disease patients with depression are 2x as likely to die than shoe who suffer from heart disease alone 1
The solution expands beyond traditional healthcare, when you honor the undeniable truth that human connection is essential to good mental health, modern living increasingly hinders our ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with other people. Add financial demands, job expectations, urban living (personally, we’ve had it with Bay Area traffic) and societal unrest to the mix, and the prevalence of psychic suffering begins to make sense. Unfortunately, as our nation has become more divided, income inequality continues to grow and the environment suffers under the pressures of climate change, the stress on our humanity will only increase.
Not only is the need for mental healthcare increasing, the current solution isn’t working:
- Nearly 60% of American adults with serious mental illness don’t receive treatment each year
- Of those who do seek treatment, more than half of all clients terminate by the 3rd session — a metric which has remained constant for 50 years. 3
So, we’ve got a growing problem without a good solution. What should we do? To help people change for the better, you have to understand how people change, period. If you take a look under the hood, humans are primates with superior dexterity and executive functioning, but less hair. As primates, our survival hinges on our ability to learn the skills and build the relationships necessary to become contributing members of society. From the moment we’re born, we instinctively look to our caretakers to teach us who we are and what we need to do to fit in.
To facilitate the process of acquiring skills and building relationships, we have the neurological wiring to learn through observation and the motivation to earn the positive reinforcement of our caretakers.
The older we get, the harder it becomes to learn new things. Just ask any adult who’s picked up a new language or strapped on skis for the first time. Fortunately we now know that our brains can adapt to meet the needs of our environment throughout our lives, which means that change and growth are always possible. No matter how old we are, the best way for humans to learn and grow is through the positive reinforcement of trusting experts, who are committed to showing us how it is done.
As therapy adoption, retention and satisfaction rates demonstrate, creating an environment that fosters human change is not easy; however, it is possible and the rewards are immense. Study 4 after study 5 show that we can provide adults with the tools to change their brain, if we commit to taking these 5 key steps to effective therapy. Thanks to modern neuroimaging, we can now see how effective therapy changes the brain.
If you’re ready to make changes in your own life, let us help. Our care coordinators are here to match you with a therapist that can guide you on your journey. If you’re curious about what we’re up to at Kip, learn more about how we’re making the therapeutic journey more efficient and transparent, through our very own take on the 5 steps of effective therapy.
1. Source: National Institute for Mental Illness
2. World Health Organization
3. Psychiatry MMC