Each year, during the first full week of October, organizations across the country work to raise awareness for mental health disorders to educate the public, fight stigma and provide support. Mental health awareness is an important topic to address year-round, but Mental Illness Awareness Week is an opportunity to highlight the important work being done to improve the lives of Americans affected by mental health disorders.
America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing 119 medicines to help improve the lives of the estimated 61.5 million Americans affected by mental health disorders. These medicines in development—all either in clinical trials or under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration —include 36 for schizophrenia, 29 for depression, 20 for substance/addictive disorders, 15 for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 15 for anxiety disorders. Over the past half century, biopharmaceutical research has helped alleviate the burden and improve the quality of life for many individuals living with a mental disorder. But therapeutic advances are needed for people not helped by current treatments or for those who experience negative side effects. Research has shown access to mental health medicines helps patients reduce depressive symptoms . But a recent Q&A, National Alliance on Mental Illness’s Andrew Sperling highlighted some of the burdens patients managing mental health conditions still face.
Mental health conditions pose a heavy human and economic burden in the U.S. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in four American adults has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and serious mental illnesses cost the U.S. more than $317 billion annually in lost wages, health care expenditures and disability benefits.
As our knowledge of the brain continues to expand, biopharmaceutical scientists are finding new, exciting ways to help patients facing depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders . Working in collaboration with academia, government researchers, patient organizations and others in the innovation ecosystem, biopharmaceutical research companies are applying new scientific approaches and evolving knowledge of disease to bring new solutions to patients.
Innovative approaches being pursued include:
- A medicine that may provide a broader spectrum of therapeutic activity for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD);
- An intranasal medicine for treatment-resistant depression that may offer a rapid onset of therapeutic effects; and
- A medicine for schizophrenia that potentially could result in fewer negative side effects than existing treatments.
For more information about how biopharmaceutical companies are innovating for mental health patients, http://www.fromhopetocures.org/fighting-for-mental-health.
Hannah Mooney Hannah is a Senior Manager of Public Affairs at PhRMA developing paid media programs and campaigns as well as assisting other PhRMA team members to cultivate a values-driven messaging platform on the value of the industry and the medicines our companies bring to the health care system. In a former life, she worked in grassroots advocacy and voter contact, supporting Members of Congress, their campaigns, and public affairs organizations with their legislative initiatives in addition to having worked in the U.S. Senate in communications. Hannah enjoys being outdoors and exploring all the city has to offer, teaching cycling classes, and finding new restaurants with good food and better patios in the District.