The mental health industry is big business: the National Institute of Mental Health reports that in 2012, 43.7 million people ages eighteen and older (18.6% of U.S. adults) experienced issues associated with a mental illness. In Maine, about 51,000 adults and approximately 13,000 children suffer from a serious mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, mental illness “accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease” and in Maine, mental health issues coupled with substance abuse is the leading cause of disability and death for Mainers between ages fifteen and forty-four, and is the second leading cause of disability among all ages. While many people experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives, upwards of eighty percent can maintain “normal, productive lives” if they have access to effective treatment. However, unlike medical issues that can be diagnosed with a blood test or biopsy, mental health diagnosis and treatment depends largely on the patient’s disclosures to mental health professionals. Psychotherapy is an example of an effective mental health treatment for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, addictions, eating disorders, and personality disorders. In addition, psychotherapy can be helpful for individuals looking to relieve stress, resolve conflict, and deal with other difficult life issues.In an attempt to help individuals manage to overcome their mental health issues, psychotherapists encourage patients to articulate their thoughts, urges, and concerns in a safe, confidential therapeutic session. Today “psychotherapy” encompasses many professional subsets, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). Patients seeking mental health services can choose between a variety of professionals for similar mental health treatment, although LCSWs are usually more affordable than other licensed mental health workers. In addition, the professional outlook for social work is projected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022. Therefore LCSWs will have an amplified ability to impact society and the individual patient through their increased professional outreach.

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