Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump sparred on the debate stage three times.
A topic that was glaringly missing in the mix? Mental health.
Despite the fact that mental health issues are growing and suicide rates are at a 15-year high, the matter was barely mentioned during the discourse ― but there were a few unimportant issues that were highlighted extensively.
Below are just a few topics that got more focus than psychological conditions:
1. Rosie O’Donnell
Trump has made disparaging comments about the comedian in the past and he had no issue bringing up his distaste for her in the first debate.
2. The Emmys
Trump is still bitter about the fact that his reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” did not win the television award and said so during the final debate.
3. Bill Clinton’s infidelity
Trump threatened to bring Gennifer Flowers, the woman who Bill Clinton admitted having an affair with more than a decade ago, to a debate. He also brought up Bill’s infidelity scandals. PSA: He is not the one running for president.
4. Ken Bone’s sweater
Both Trump and Clinton went back and forth on who was a bigger “puppet” during the third debate. May as well have said, “I know you are but what am I?”
Trump repeatedly has used the term in his debate arguments, prompting the internet to go ablaze and a dictionary to weigh in on the whole thing.
7. Trump’s microphone
The GOP candidate was furious following the first debate because he was experiencing technical difficulties with the mic. So of course he tweeted about it.
8. A six-foot-tall portrait
In an attack on his questionable use of money from the Trump Foundation, Clinton noted that Trump used some of the funds to purchase a six-foot-tall portrait of himself. Side note, how on earth did this thing cost $20,000 dollars?
9. Trump’s sniffing
Joking aside, this really matters
The fact that so many often topics took precedent over a genuine issue like mental health is upsetting. Nearly one in five American adults will experience a mental health issue in a given year. Why does something that affects so many Americans get so little attention in a national conversation?
The mental health care system is failing people who need it most. A recent study published by Mental Health America found that more than half of people with a psychological health condition don’t get treatment for it.
It’s not hard to see why this deficiency happens: There’s a shortage of child psychiatrists. People in mental health crises end up in emergency rooms and wait longer to get treated than those with physical symptoms. Even doctors don’t take mental illness as seriously as physical illness.
Mental illness costs workplaces approximately $17 to $44 billion dollars per year in productivity. An estimated one in four police killings involve someone with a mental health condition. Veterans, who have astronomical suicide rates, don’t reach out for help for fear of looking weak. People of color receive poor medical care and support for mental health issues. And to top it all off, many people with mental illness don’t seek treatment in fear that they’ll be judged and shamed for their condition.
Mental illness interferes with a person’s daily existence in a deep and profound way ― and it’s time to acknowledge that. Presidential candidates should discuss policies and initiatives aimed to fix the barriers to care and stigma that surrounds the condition.
Proposed plans help. Take Clinton’s comprehensive platform, which aims to address mental health as equally as physical health. However, people with mental illness need physical and verbal recognition. It’s more reassuring to hear a powerful person talk about it on a televised debate. It makes the millions of people who suffer from them feel like their issue is not invisible.
Of course, mental health isn’t the only matter that was completely ignored. Climate change and poverty were also seemingly absent from moderator questions or candidate answers. So while we may be breathing a sigh of relief that we don’t have to watch another debate again this season, there’s still some unfinished business to discuss before election day.
Your move, candidates.
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