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Cases of mental illnesses have been on the rise in the USA recently. Both children and adults are affected significantly with issues that could be treated effectively through intensive therapy. In recent years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of cases reported on mental matters, which have been untreated. This issue has been brought to light by Tara Westover’s memoir “Educated” where she narrates her emotional and psychological struggle. She had to live in an abusive home of negligence and physical abuse and without formal education. Additionally, she is physically and emotionally tortured by her elder brother, who apparently had no reasons for continually assaulting her. The long-suffering traumatic events Westover narrates are sad. She suffered mentally for a longer period, which necessitated active psychological treatment to heal lifelong emotional wounds inflicted on her by her survivalist family.

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NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) estimates that “one in every five individuals is affected or suffering from mental illness”. This study, therefore, seeks to establish the prevalence of mental diseases that are on the increase in the USA. Furthermore, it seeks insight on how people like Westover are inflicted pain by their caregivers leading to mental disorders. Consequently, taken into account are measures undertaken by the government and the psychiatric team to treat and prevent the occurrence of these disorders. Cases related to Westover’s struggle with mental abuse in the hands of abusers are on the rise, as well as children who have to live with mentally ill parents or guardians. Appropriate intervention by the government and clinical psychologists need to be effected to curb self -harm and harm to others. In recent times, Americans have been surprised by the rising news of tragedies of people suffering from mental disorders.

Types and Causes of Mental Illnesses

Tara Westover’s memoir has been used as an alarm to alert the society on how individuals suffer in silence. Furthermore they experience mental sickness when such abuses go unreported or lack early psychiatric intervention. If there are no early interventions, exposure to violence, whether mental, physical or sexual, results in mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Stockholm syndrome, Depression and addiction.

In her Memoir, Westover narrates the tragic ordeal of his brother’s abusive acts towards her. She says that his brother would insult her with words such as ‘slut’ and ‘whore’. On other occasions, he would “pull her hair while pulling her around and flush her head in the toilet.” Why would her brother be so violent to her? Probably, their father’s bipolar condition had taken its effect on Shawn. His increasing violence towards her younger sister, Westover, had a psychological stem from the kind of upbringing they had gotten in rural Idaho. Living in isolation and completely shut away from the rest of the world had negative mental effect on Shawn. Westover was just an object through which his boiled up anger would vent out.

Science Daily reports that WHO has outlined bipolar disorder to “rank amongst the ten most worrying mental health conditions.” “Bipolar cause’s distress to those afflicted with the disease and to those living with them,” they report (Rami 73). Those suffering from the disorder experience high and low feelings of excitement, insomnia, restlessness and extreme feelings of sadness. Children living with bipolar parents have high chances of developing a great sensitivity to stress, deregulated behavior and maladaptive coping. This disorder affects them through genetic trait mechanism and infancy interactions, which eventually results to affective disorders. One in every five is a high number of victims of mental disorders, which makes mental illness a national crisis that needs quick mitigation measures.

“Children at a young age may not understand their parent inability to cope with their own emotions” (Salahi). Aggressiveness, irritability and violence are ways which offspring of bipolar disorder parents may exhibit their reaction to lack of attachment in their early age. In the case of Westover’s brother, Shawn, being unable to control his urge towards hurting his little sister Westover was a psychosocial disorder stemming from the mentally sick father who could probably be suffering from a bipolar condition. Just like Shawn, prevalent of bipolar disease in the United States implies that very many young children and teenagers live in a stressing environment. Unfortunately such children will not have the opportunity to develop normal attachment process and be totally normal social being in their future lives. In fact, there are high chances that such children become bullies later in their lives.

“Mental conditions like ADHD mostly lead to impulsive and aggressive behaviors, which are a common occurrence to bullies” (Salahi). Since they have experienced bullying in their early lives, bullies more likely will pass on the cycle of social abuse. Most of them are filled with fear of inadequacy; hence they are depressed and afraid. Therefore, often, vent out their anger and frustration on the weaker subjects available. While support is only provided to victims who are bullied, no one ever thinks of the case of the bullies, because they could be most likely be suffering from a mental condition with mental wounds that are yet to heal. For Shawn’s example, the absolute neglect inflicted on him, and other siblings could have resulted to the feelings of frustrations and anger. Hence, caused him to abuse Tara and his other older sister, and went ahead to start mistreating his wife. Bullies will not stop the practice of abuse unless they are helped out of it by a professional psychologist.

Failure to report these cases of negligence and child abuse has contributed to increased mental disorders in the USA. Tara would interact with other community members; more so, there are those who came to work in Tara’s father’s yard. How could any of them fail to report the situation? Why would Tara keep on living with his abusive brother to the point of judging the case as her madness? This was Shawn’s problem, and not hers. A condition where victims derive coping mechanisms to tolerate their abuser is known as Stockholm syndrome. Tara was not to condone his brother longer; he ought to have reported. The community which interacted with Tara could have let the relevant authority know what was going on. Denying children basic needs of education and formal medication was a matter to be reported.

Many parents neglect their children in the USA leading to the development of mental disorders in such children. In some cases, such abuse makes the children develop post-traumatic stress disorders, which become a condition that need psychiatric treatment. However, if left untreated leads to devastating effects such as depression, self -harm, harm for others and suicide.

Tara Westover was brave to have survived all the harsh life inflicted on her and her siblings by her Mormon parents. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder causes the victims to have extremely high levels of hormones associated with stress” (Salina). Anything that resembles the previous danger makes them relive the trauma and develop extreme fear and numbness. Such people are likely to experience many nightmares since the part that processes emotions and memory shrinks, making them unable to experience normal feelings. Negligence and child abuse is the main reason to teen antisocial behavior such as isolation, depression, addiction, and drug or substance abuse. However, the mental conditions are not supposed to be prolonged (Bernanke et al.) “When such disorders are left unchecked, they lead to suicide.”

Mitigation Measures to Minimize Prevalence of Mental Illnesses

The government ought to enforce its child protection agencies by initiating a mandatory reporting system where anyone can report any suspicious child abuse cases. However, a constricted community such as where Tara lived may not be big enough to be used to carry out robust campaigns towards reporting cases of child abuse as an adult duty. States such as Utah and Iowa would help to solicit the Mormon Church to assist in promoting the significance of reporting child negligence and abuse to relevant authorities.

Many children may not have the strength which Tara had to have survived horrible background of abuse and negligence. It’s upon the government to promote the need to report such cases to save children from impending mental disorders, which loom out of exposure to traumatic events such as Tara’s. Fortunately she survived even though she suffered many physical and emotional wounds. Where a family is a source of harm and danger to the child, it’s upon the community and the government to ensure safety of such a child. In addition, the psychiatrist should be mandated to report to the police any suspicious occurrences of child neglect and abuse. Whenever they are treating parents who are suffering from mental disorders such as bipolar condition, addiction, drug abuse, or anxiety they ought to investigate if such parents are providing a safe haven for their children,. If not the children can be given to child protection unit.

Adoptive families are known to be a source of stress from abuse and negligence to their foster children. Such families should be vetted thoroughly before being handed over children in their custody. In case adoption is granted to them, the children should be given a warm environment where they can report any case of maltreatment to avoid cases such as Tara’s. When psychiatric are dealing with parents, they should look out for potential harm clues to children. This will prevent potential harm to the children in custody of the mentally sick and harmful parent.

Although it is commonly aware that mentally disturbed parents are a threat to their children, this risk should be given much consideration (Bernanke, et al.). Substance abuse which may be caused by depression is an additional risk factor to consider that can harm children. Some mental illnesses are accompanied by violence, which is however dynamic since it can diminish if proper treatment mechanisms are employed appropriately. Schools should also place measures to ensure that teachers look for clues that can point out signs of depression among learners as well as colleges. Such measures will reduce the effects of child abuse if such maltreatment is brought to light. Perpetrators ought to face dire consequences and penalty if found guilty of child abuse or negligence.

National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) stated that the governmental department of health, through Health and Human Services “would let states apply for waivers to the administration for inpatient setting.” The move was to offset mental health treatment in mental sickness institutions. Initially, there was no cover provided to psychiatric treatment by Medicaid. But since mental issues are becoming rampant there was need to increase accessibility to professional help in order to treat and reduce mental disability menace among the US citizens. People like Tara Westover, who managed to run away from traumatic events may find easy to get professional help with such waivers. Campaigns are intensified to increase awareness of mental health issues so that those who are affected may know their symptoms early enough to seek help before the situation gets out of hand.

In conclusion, cases of mental illnesses are rampant in the USA with increased reports of depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and Stockholm syndrome. As a result, those affected may become harmful to themselves and others. When children get maltreated in the hands of their parents, guardians and foster parents, they should be rescued, taken to child protection unit and active psychiatric treatment administered to them to avoid probable development of mental issues such as PTSD.

Significant campaigns have been put by the government agencies to ensure the public report as fast as possible any clues of child abuse and negligence. Even though the government is trying to fight mental illnesses, it would be appropriate if more campaigns are held to increase awareness to the prevalence of mental disorders. Sometimes what people need is acceptance and love to heal emotional wounds. Combined with treatment therapies cases that are aggravated by mental disorders such as suicide and homicides will diminish.

Works Cited

Bernanke, JA.Stanley,BH. and Oquendo, MA. “Toward fine-grained phenotyping of suicidal behavior: the role of suicidal subtypes.” Molecular psychiatry 22.8 (2017): 1080.

Concordia University.”Real risks of growing up with bipolar parents.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily,10 June2014., Accessed December 2, 2018

National Alliance on Mental Illness. ‘NAMI Excited With New Opportunities to Improve Medicaid Mental Health Care’

 Nijjar, Rami.Mark, Ellenbogen, Sheilagh Hodgins. Personality, coping, risky behavior, and mental disorders in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder: A comprehensive psychosocial assessment. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2014;

Salahi Lara. “Bullies Nearly Twice as Likely to Have Mental Health DisorderAbc News. Accessed December 2, 2018

Westover, Tara. “Educated: A memoir.” New York: Random House. (2018).


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