Be the Hope for Cures!
Green is the color of spring and of mental health—and May is Mental Health Month. It’s the time of year when we join with other voices to make some noise about the last frontier in health. Cure Alliance is marking Mental Health Month by kicking off our campaign “Hope for Cures.” The part you can play is to be a spokesperson for hope—see below for how you can help.
Why do we hope for cures?
Cure Alliance for Mental illness was founded on the conviction that our society should put more resources into finding cures for mental illnesses. Today’s treatments for these brain disorders are not adequate, since they don’t work for many people, and even when they do work, they carry undesirable side-effects. This means that too many people living with mental illness have to settle for partial recovery. We should not accept this current reality as forever given fact.
In addition, the word “cure” helps to emphasize that mental illnesses are, in fact, illnesses—not a choice, not a weakness, not a moral failure. We do believe that there is a degree of failure (moral and otherwise) in our society’s ways of handling mental illness and people living with mental illness.
How do we cure mental illness?
The short answer is, we don’t know. We need to know much, much more about how our brains work, and how genes and environmental factors—everything from prenatal health to childhood trauma—interact before we can think about cures—or prevention. It’s not “nature or nurture,” it’s both nature and nurture. Current treatments for mental illness don’t really address the causes of the illness; they really only alleviate symptoms, and usually they are only partially successful.
That’s why Cure Alliance advocates for more research to understand mental illnesses. We believe there’s a need for more research on many levels—understanding the basics of how brains work, identifying environmental risks for mental illnesses, improving current treatments (medications, psychosocial treatments, etc), and more. (See our “Educate” page for more.)
Though research is expensive, we think it’s an investment with returns on many levels. As fiscal conservative Newt Gingrich wrote in a recent op-ed piece the cost of biomedical research should be balanced against the huge cost of healthcare. He might have added that the payoff in greater happiness and productivity for millions of people is incalculable.
So for us, hoping for a cure means action—advocating for research.