Is Mental Illness the New HIV? – Ozy

Memories of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are vivid for those who lived through the 1980s. It was everywhere and nowhere at the same time — emerging as a killer while simultaneously being swept under the rug by American leaders. People with HIV/AIDS struggled without access to appropriate care and were left stigmatized and vulnerable to discrimination.

Today, mental illness is in a similar place. One in four suffer from it at some point, many facing human rights violations, a dearth of services and stigma. Critically, the disease often proves deadly, with suicide now being the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 globally. Much as HIV/AIDS expanded to millions of new cases over a decade, mental illness is expected to increase considerably by 2030. Trouble is, the disease is not being spotlighted as a global crisis. Just as we saw with HIV/AIDS, effective action now can save millions, but it can’t come from one group alone. As today marks World Mental Health Day, let’s take this moment to begin working together and to put a star next to 2016 as a pivotal turning point for mental health.

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