Thankfully, global perceptions of mental illness, and the associated stigma against seeking or receiving mental health, are beginning to show signs of real change in recent years.
Unfortunately, those changes are not coming quickly enough.
According to Mental Health America, a leading community-based no-profit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans, nearly 60 percent of adults struggling with a mental illness in 2017 did not receive treatment in the previous year.
Furthermore, according to the MHA's 2017 study "The State Of Mental Health In America," more than 18 percent of all adults struggle with mental health problems annually. That's equivalent to approximately 44 million Americans.
That means that roughly 27 million Americans with a mental health issue did not receive treatment. These figures are as staggering as they are heartbreaking.
The causes for this treatment gap are, of course, varied, and happily this percentage of untreated adults is on a downward trend — albeit slight — dropping by roughly 5 percent since 2011.
But unlike the barriers to treatment faced by previous generations, the chief culprit contributing to the treatment gap is not a lack of desire to receive treatment or a lack of access to treatment. Even in Maine, the state the MHA found to have the best level of access, 41.4 percent of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.
A lack of insurance plays perhaps the largest role, though the percentages vary from state to state from as low as 3.3 percent in Massachusetts to as high as 23.8 percent in South Carolina. Across the board, 14.7 percent of adults with a mental illness are uninsured — roughly 6.3 million Americans.
While this tangled web undoubtedly seems complicated, the good news is there are options even for those without insurance. Whether looking into affordable health care, seeking a clinic or community health center, or consulting a local support group or local spiritual leader, help is attainable. And it's actually "easier than you think," according to Alice Sanderlin, LPC-MHSP.
"Start by asking your doctor or clergy for referrals to a mental health agency or provider. Insurance companies also offer provider lists," says Sanderlin. "Therapy directories such as GoodTherapy.org or Psychology Today can help locate therapists in your location who specialize in various fields. Online therapy services (check for HIPAA compliance) offer messaging, video, and chat services with flexible hours."
For music creators, this issue of gaining physical and financial access to mental healthcare can often be compounded by a lack of insurance. If you or a music professional you know are struggling with accessing of affording treatment, MusiCares can help provide financial and institutional assistance.
In the face of the mental health epidemic that we are facing, it is critical that we continue working toward integrating behavioral and mental health screening tools and education into traditional systems of physical healthcare so the concerns of individuals living with mental health issues can be identified and addressed.
"Shame and fear can sometimes hold us prisoner," says Sanderlin. "The fear of being labeled or stigmatized can keep people from reaching out for help. We may be telling ourselves, 'I should be able to handle this myself.' Asking for help is sometimes the hardest part — just ask."
Photo: Shaul Schwarz, Verbatim/Be Vocal/Getty Images
While the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, the tragic fact is that too many suffer without getting the help they need.
"56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment," according to Mental Health America. "Even in Maine, the state with the best access, 41.4% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment."
So why does such a high percentage of people who suffer from a mental illness not seek the help they need? The social stigma of being perceived as having a mental "condition" is partly to blame but there are other factors that contribute to potential patients choosing to go it alone.
Mental Health America states that there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, and that an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from mental disorders in a given year.
According to Mental Health America, many people think that mental disorders are rare and that they "happen to someone else." Private struggles with mental health can contribute to an isolated worldview where the availability of professional help seems unattainable, even if access to services is near at hand. And some are not prepared to cope with the reality of mental illness — it can be physically and emotionally trying, in addition to making some feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others.
But the important thing to understand is that there is hope and there is help. Mental Health America offers a variety of resources, including helpful information on many mental illnesses.
For more than 25 years, MusiCares has acted as a safety net for the music community, assisting musicians with mental health care and resources and making life-saving connections between patients and the help they need.
If you work in the music community and you are exhibiting warning signs for a mental illness — or if you know someone else who may be struggling with a mental health issue — MusiCares can and will help. Call us at 310.392.3777 or toll-free 1.800.687.4227.
Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage.com
While we know loud sounds sustained over long periods of time without protection can damage our ability to hear, that's not the only cause of hearing loss. In fact, as we age, our ability to hear decreases naturally for most of us. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately one in three U.S. adults between the ages 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those 75 and older have hearing difficulty.
Our ability to hear comes from a rather complex process. Sound waves enter the outer ear and make their way through the narrow ear canal until they hit the eardrum. The eardrum then vibrates, which cause three small bones — the malleus, incus and stapes — in the inner ear to vibrate. These vibrations pair with the fluid vibrations in the snail-shaped, liquid-filled part of the inner ear called the cochlea.
The vibrating fluid inside the cochlea causes a traveling wave that allows small hairs to move in the basilar membrane. Microscopic stereocilia perched on the tips of the hair bend against the surrounding structure, allowing chemicals to rush into the surrounding cells, creating an electrical signal. From here, the auditory nerve carries the signal into the brain, and the brain interprets the data into sounds we recognize and understand.
Often times, age-related hearing loss is caused by the hair cells closest to the outer ear breaking down, making it harder for older adults to hear higher frequency sounds. The breakdown and dying of the delicate inner ear hairs can start as early as our 30s and 40s. This means making sure we protect our hearing from noise-induced hearing loss in younger years is even more important — we want to preserve our natural hearing as long as possible.
If you're a musician and you want to take preventative measures to protect your hearing, MusiCares' hearing clinics and programs may be able to help. And as they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Protect your hearing now!
From shedding scales and arpeggios in the practice room to jamming out onstage, music is an incredibly physical activity. Whether your instrument of choice is guitar, violin, drums, saxophone, trumpet, or even your voice, without proper care, attention and technique, the risk for injury can be right around the corner.
Musicians who play an instrument are especially prone to repetitive strain injuries that affect the fingers, hands, wrists, and even arms with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. In addition, stiffness and pain can reach to the neck and back, especially for string players and percussionists. Wind instrumentalists have the added consideration of potential air pressure injuries to the eyes or larynx, and vocalists have to worry about their vocal cords.
The good news is that many of these injuries are preventable with a few extra precautions. Thanks to ThoughtCo, remember to safely practice and perform with these five injury-preventing tips.
Remember to approach music practice like warming up for a sporting event. After all, a competitive runner wouldn't dream of racing a sprint without first stretching and warming up the body, and the same goes for playing an instrument. Take time to slowly warm up to the physical demands of playing an instrument, including stretching and playing slowly at first.
There's a reason most music teachers spend a lot of energy in their classrooms emphasizing posture and technique — it prevents injuries. Sit or stand with a natural spine alignment and an alert but relaxed posture. Use the recommended technique for your instrument so your body moves in harmony with your instrument as opposed to working against it. The goal is to play without any added strain or pressure.
Many instruments come in various sizes and shapes, such as string instruments. Choose an appropriately sized instrument with a comfortable contour that works with your body while still giving you the tone and performance you'd like. And don't forget to accessorize. Adding a neck strap for a clarinet player, a padded strap for a guitarist or different gauge strings on the bass can help make your instrument more comfortable and less likely to cause unnecessary injury.
The body tells us a lot of information. When it speaks, listen. If your arms feel tired, take a break. If you're feeling tension in your hands, take a moment to stretch them out. If your throat is sore, rest your voice and drink tea. Don't ignore the warning signs and give your body a rest when it needs it. Also keep in mind, for longer practice sessions, small periodic breaks will go a long way.
Finally, if you've followed all the preventative measures and you're still experiencing pain and discomfort while playing your instrument, it may be time to see a doctor. Per ThoughtCo, "most injuries are treated easily when caught early." If you're in need of a referral, MusiCares' Medical Network is a great place to start.