A rethink is needed in terms of how we view mental illness, stated National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a recent TEDx talk at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.
Deaths from medical causes such as leukemia and heart disease have decreased over the past 30 years. The same cannot be said of the suicide rate, which has remained the same. A vast majority of suicides—90 percent—are related to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
Insel believes part of the problem is that mental illness is referred to either as a mental or behavioral disorder. “We need to think of these as brain disorders,” he said, adding that for these brain disorders, behavior is the last thing to change.