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The Scoop - Is America a happy place?
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My health insurance provider wants me to go to the doctor every year whether I'm sick or not. So, obedient customer that I am, I jump through this figurative hoop because it's better than the alternative of arguing with my insurance company, which never comes out in my favor.

If there's one area where my health insurance provider excels it's in giving me the runaway to the point where it finally breaks my spirit and I just end up paying. I think that's by design.

I went to my annual well visit on Wednesday and was surprised to learn the checkup had changed from last year. Sure, my blood pressure was checked as always and I had to breathe deeply while the nurse listened to my lungs and heart, but outside of that most of the exam centered around my mental health.

Have I been generally happy over the past two weeks?

Have I contemplated thoughts of harming myself or others?

Do I consider life worth living?

Since I haven't had to deal with my health insurance provider over the past two weeks, I have been generally happy. And, since I have avoided any contact with my health insurance agents, I haven't had any thoughts of harming anyone.

In all seriousness, it is time for mental health issues to be addressed head-on. I was surprised in reading an article in our Wednesday edition about Warren County Schools that was written by Todd Herzog.

Todd asked Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows about his greatest concerns and Swallows said the mental well-being of students was at the top of his list. I figured it would be reading and math scores, but mental well-being is a much better answer.

 For years, mental health issues were viewed as a sign of weakness. We should just tough it out and push through whatever problem is bothering us. This was especially true for men. I'm glad to see a change in attitude because it's badly needed.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says 1-in-5 adults in the U.S. have experienced a mental illness and 1-in-20 have experienced a serious mental illness.

NAMI also reports more than 12 million Americans have had serious thoughts of suicide, a problem that's been heightened, NAMI says, because of the isolation brought on by the pandemic.

The worst age demographic for mental illness, according to NAMI, is the young adult age group which is 18-25. Of that population, a full 33% have experienced a mental illness. The problem is exacerbated in rural areas because access to appropriate care is not as available.

It's encouraging to see our society placing more of an emphasis on mental health when it comes to evaluating overall health. Based on the collective tone of social media, I'm not convinced America can be described as a happy place.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.