APA Cites Little Medical Guidance in Stress Management

Almost 14 years ago, Perry Wellness Center founder Stuart Perry walked from Americus, Georgia to Chicago, Illinois, on a mission about mental health awareness. Along the way, he gathered thousands of names for a petition that he presented to the American Medical Association. The petition called for physicians to include depression screening in their patient health exams.

Looks like someone may need to get some new walking shoes. In a study recently released by the American Psychological Association, the organization shared the results of its annual Stress in America survey—and the results were not positive. Among other findings, the survey pointed to the fact that more than half of the population is getting little or no help with managing stress when they visit their normal healthcare providers.

While physicians were found to provide general health pointers on lifestyle improvements, specific mental health and stress management information was often lacking. Only 22% of survey respondents agreed that their healthcare providers were providing support to them in managing their stress. This finding is particularly troubling in light of the fact that other studies have pointed to continued problems in access to mental health care for about one fourth of all Americans.

It is well known now that ongoing stress can contribute to a wide range of physical health problems, from heart attacks to gastrointestinal disturbance. So it seems only fitting that the nation's medical community take a stronger role in educating the public about appropriate stress management.

We'd like to hope that this report serves as a wake-up call. But we all need to speak out and advocate for increased stress awareness and education – for the general public, for loved ones, and for ourselves, just like we did over a decade ago on the subject of depression.

For more information, check out the NPR health blog, read the APA press release on the survey.

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