Prakash Masand, the founder, chairman and CEO of Global Medical Education, and previously a consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, said in an email that people are possibly less likely to pay to avoid mental illnesses because they think it’s less likely they will suffer from them. They may also not want to think about the possibility of even having a mental illness because of the stigma attached.
“People still misperceive mental illnesses as more psychological rather than biological, and have a false sense that they are more capable at preventing mental illnesses on their own versus say diabetes or heart disease, [which] they perceive as being out of their control more than mental illnesses,” said Masand, who is also a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
“Hence they do not value interventions to prevent mental illness as highly. Another reason is because of the stigma that still exists around having mental illnesses, people are less able to confront the possibility that they may develop a mental illness, even though the lifetime prevalence rates are high, which leads to a false perception that since they will not develop mental illness they do not need to work as hard to prevent it, and interventions to prevent it are less valuable.”
Cinda Johnson, a professor and director of the special education graduate program at Seattle University, and co-author of the book “Perfect Chaos,” which is a memoir about her daughter’s battle with bipolar disorder, said in an email that although it’s disheartening to know the results of the study, she is not that surprised because she doesn’t think the general public knows how many people are actually suffering from a mental illness, and how common it can be to have mental health issues.
Johnson, who is also the principal investigator and director of the Center for Change in Transition Services, said that after she and Linea, her daughter, share the story of Linea’s struggle with bipolar disorder with different audiences, people have the reaction that Linea doesn’t look like a person with a mental illness.