Understanding and Confronting
the Brain Health Epidemic
Mental health affects more people than you think
From autism and Alzheimer’s disease to traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, brain diseases and injuries affect more than 60 million Americans — that’s more than one in five Americans suffering from mental illness or brain injury.
And that’s just of a few of the many staggering statistics associated with the growing brain epidemic.
It’s an affliction that doesn’t discriminate, affecting and stigmatizing people of all ages, races, ethnicities and incomes.
Where there are challenges, we see opportunities
There are many issues facing brain health today. Unfortunately, there has been little to no progress in developing solutions.
Here are the most critical challenges that One Mind is dedicated to confronting and overcoming:
Challenge #1: Lack of PTS and TBI diagnostics and treatments
Did you know over 60% percent of the most seriously wounded soldiers from our recent wars suffer from TBI and post-traumatic stress (PTS)? And in a given year, more than 2.5 million Americans experience traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
Despite these startling numbers, the diagnosis and treatment of brain disease remains an inexact science, ruled by subjectivity and opinion. In fact, the current “test” for PTS consists of answering 20 questions asked by a mental health professional.
To make matters worse, there is not only far less large-scale research on brain illness and injury than other major diseases, but also the majority of research that is being conducted, the data and results are not being shared with other brain illness and injury researchers.
Shallow, antiquated diagnostics mixed with small-scale, siloed research has resulted in no progress in developing treatments and cures for brain disease. The very fact that not much has changed in diagnostics and treatment for PTS and TBI since WWII is proof that we still have a long way to go.
Our Opportunity: Create large-scale collaborations and patient communities
One Mind is devoted to large-scale research on all diseases of the brain, which in the marketplace is both remarkable and unique.
We are currently facilitating and supporting two innovative, comprehensive research collaborations that will both focus on PTS and TBI research and will use similar protocol and share data utilizing “Open Science” principles throughout the duration of their studies.
In addition, One Mind is partnering with trailblazing online patient community builder PatientsLikeMe to enable an enhanced design and customized experience of world-class PTS and TBI online communities.
The data from these PTS and TBI online communities will not only lead to better diagnostics, treatments and cures, but also be useful to researchers studying related illnesses of the brain such as depression, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia, Alzheimer’s and addiction.
We invite you to learn more about all our programs by visiting our Solutions page.
Challenge #2. Low funding for neurological diseases and injuries
Despite the need for diagnostics and treatments, the amount invested into brain research has been, historically, astoundingly low.
The reasons? Government funding is largely fragmented; funding many small studies rather than major research projects that could lead to more significant results. And corporate funding (primarily from the pharmaceutical industry) has already decreased so dramatically that it can be considered insignificant.
To make matters worse, translating research results to actual cures can take many years. In fact, this process is so arduous that the scientific community calls it “The Valley of Death.”
How underinvested is neurological diseases and injuries comparatively? Cancer and heart disease affect far fewer people; yet receive significantly more funding support than brain diseases.
Our Opportunity: Generate funding by utilizing leadership position
Unlike cancer and heart disease, there is not an umbrella organization for the brain.
One Mind is leading the effort by bringing together the governmental, corporate, scientific and philanthropic communities to facilitate data sharing and collaboration, accelerate large-scale research and focus on the needs of the patient.
We have several advantages when it comes to bringing these communities together for greater funding:
- Strong leadership
- An established position in the scientific community as an advocate for revolutionizing collaboration, research and funding for mental illness and brain injury
- A demonstrated ability to convene diverse and key participants from science, government and advocacy.
You can join us to close the funding gap and fight the brain epidemic. Donate today
Challenge #3: The stigma of mental illness
The worst wounds are oftentimes the ones we can’t see. This is the reality of those who live every day with a brain injury or disease.
Society is more likely to take action against the ravages of traumatic brain injury if it understands how large-scale and pervasive this issue is.
The fact that today we still speak about mental health as somehow different than physical health is proof that a much brighter spotlight needs to be on this issue.
Until we have a tangible way to discuss and diagnose and treat mental illness as an actual physical illness, these attitudes will never change.
The Opportunity: Establish supportive online communities while building awareness
An important part of One Mind’s mission is eliminating the stigma that comes with having a mental illness. The harmful effects can be damaging and even dangerous.
Our partnership with PatientsLikeMe is a powerful step to erasing the stigma of mental illness. Building PTS and TBI online communities will not only enable us to provide valuable data to researchers, it will also provide immediate help to Veterans and active duty service members, their families and caregivers and all who are affected by PTS and TBI.
Now researchers can connect, learn, share with others, track their progress, become better informed and advocate more effectively for their own health and the health of those they love.
To garner more support for this issue, we also need to create more awareness. That’s why One Mind participates in a variety of conferences, events, meetings and speaking engagements each year to educate public and private individuals and companies and make the issues surrounding mental health more known and understood.
In fact, One Mind is drafting a strategic plan for a campaign that expands public awareness and understanding of brain disorders and injuries in order to eliminate the stigma, shame and discrimination that ravages afflicted patients.
Launching in 2015, the campaign will include PSA’s, print advertising, social media, radio, television and the Internet.
Gain a deeper understanding about the stigma of mental illness, including ways to cope by visiting our Stigma page.