20 Science Questions for the 2016 Presidential Candidates --by Shawn Otto for sciencedebate.org; See the questions here: #6.
Mental illness is very personally debilitating and also can be economically debilitating for individuals or for the nation's economy, at approximately $300 billion per year for the American public (per the National Institute of Mental Health’s estimate, which is information that was provided in the question).
My platform for providing more effective health care suggests switching to a more preventative whole health focused approach that would look for the underlying dysfunction causing a person's symptoms and work to teach the patient lifestyle changes to restore the body's natural function and prevent the dysfunction and negative symptoms from returning.
Many mental illness symptoms can be related to a variety of underlying nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. Studies or treatments that focus on only assessing and treating with one nutrient at a time are rarely going to be found to be helpful if the underlying problem involves several nutrient deficiencies all at the same time. Treatment would need to provide all of the missing nutrients in well absorbed and effective forms before the patient's negative symptoms of mental illness or physical ill health might be fully resolved.
Genetic differences that cause metabolic susceptibility for nutrient deficiencies to occur may also be an underlying cause. Some people may need high dose supplements of certain nutrients because their body is genetically unable to produce the needed chemical (nutrients are considered essential when all people need them because humans can’t produce the chemical and other chemicals are considered essential for certain populations such as the elderly when normal production of complex chemicals slows down or stops.
Funding residential facilities for patients of younger ages is also a need as more young people with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders become adults with limited abilities to live on their own. Residential facilities for the elderly are not a good fit for younger residents as activities would be designed for the older residents abilities and interests.
Nor should prisons should not be the primary provider for those with mental illness in the U.S, not if we want to consider the nation to be fair and just.
Prescription medications in use for mental illness need to be assessed for suicide and homicide risks in adults, teens, and children, and funding for research into more effective, and safer therapies should be a priority. Children and teens in foster care and on Medicaid need to be protected from the risks of their being forcibly over-medicated with potentially lethal or life altering prescriptions. Many commonly used psychiatric medications may cause significant weight gain, diabetes, and other negative health changes, which can sometimes be permanent changes rather than temporary side effects that stop when the patient weans off use of the medication.
(It can be dangerous to suddenly stop the use of psychiatric medications. Please consult with your physician or psychiatrist before attempting to stop use of a prescription medication. Suicidal and homocidal thoughts or actions have been associated with use of or stopping use of some medications.)
Funding research into the prevention of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders prenatally is also a priority. It would be much cheaper in human and economic costs to simply prevent the mental illness from occurring in the first place.
20 Science Questions
that U.S. presidential candidates were asked in 2016