What if I told you that the US isn’t doing anything about the root of our most common, deadly, and debilitating diseases? We’re certainly funding treatment for the symptoms of these diseases, but we are not funding the mental health help that can prevent them from developing in the first place. The recent repeal of the Affordable Care Act, ACA means decreases in access to mental health help.
America’s top killers are:
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (Lung disease)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Influenza and Pneumonia
- Kidney Disease
- Infection (Septicemia)
- Liver Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Pneumonitis (Lung inflammation)
For these top 15 causes of death, mental health help can go along way when it comes to prevention. Besides number 4. accidents, these are all diseases or events related to lifestyle and mental health. Some of us, of course, are born with a predisposition for these diseases, so behavioral treatment would not make much of a difference in those cases. However, for the majority of us, changing our lifestyles can protect us from developing these diseases or getting into deadly accidents.
In addition to extending our longevity, funding for mental health help will allow us to achieve a better quality of life, improve our financial situation and serve the community as a whole. Consider that 86% of our national expenditure on health care goes to treating and supporting people with chronic diseases. 86%!! Considering our national healthcare expenses add up to $2.7 trillion, that means we’re spending 2.32 trillion on these conditions. What if we spent more on mental health help and prevention? That 86% would start to drop and many of us could live healthier, happier, and more productive lives.
Behavior & Disease + Accidents
How does lifestyle contribute to or affect these diseases? Here are a few examples of the relationships between the top causes of death and behavior.
Diet is a big contributor to the development of heart disease. Scientists have found that foods high in sodium, trans fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat are known to damage the circulatory system. These chemicals can be found in fast foods, meat and dairy products, processed snacks and desserts, and fried foods.
Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and skipping exercise have been proven to contribute to heart disease as well.
It may surprise you that genetics are only responsible for about 5-10% of our cancer risk! Fortunately, we can reduce 90-95% of our risk for this deadly disease through lifestyle changes. Scientists have found that tobacco use, diets heavy in fried foods and red meat, sun exposure, drinking alcohol, exposure to pollution, high stress, infections, obesity, and lack of physical activity are the lifestyle factors associated with cancer risk. Tobacco use is known to increase risk for multiple kinds of cancers, especially those located in the respiratory system.
- Smoking cigarettes cause 71% of lung cancers
- 25-30% of all cancer-deaths have to do with tobacco
- 30-35% with diet
- 15-20% with infections
- Roughly 25% are due to radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants, and other factors.
According to research by Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass, MD:
Exposure to these behavioural and environmental factors is preventable; modifications in lifestyle could have a large impact in reducing the cancer burden worldwide
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease:
CLRD, or Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, is a term that includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Smoking cigarettes are the number one contributor to this category of diseases, as with lung cancer.
The most common lethal accidents include falls, car accidents, and accidental poisonings. Drugs and alcohol lead to a large portion of these deaths. Rehab, therapy, and behavioral interventions are forms of mental health help that can prevent some of these accidents.
Scientists have found that 80% of Alzheimer’s cases have a connection with heart disease. This means that monitoring the behaviors that lead to heart disease can also help protect you from Alzheimer’s disease. Untreated depression and anxiety, as well as a lack of mental stimulation, lead to Alzheimer’s well. Therapy and mental health help can reduce the risk for this disease.
Type II Diabetes:
Type II Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, making up 90-95% of cases. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the two leading causes of this kind of diabetes. A disordered immune reaction causes the other type of diabetes, but it is much less common. Behavioral interventions are the most effective way to combat obesity. Expanding access to these mental health programs would help us reduce our diabetes rates.
Suicide is a direct result of mental illness. The only way to treat and prevent the mental illnesses that lead to suicide is to provide access to mental health help. Simple as that.
Get Mental Health Treatment Today
Here at Breathe Life Healing Centers, we are advocates for increasing access to mental health services. We wish for these services to be available for anyone who needs them. If you can benefit from our alcohol, drug, obesity, or mental illness treatments, please contact us. Behavioral treatments like ours can do more for your health and longevity than you realized.