Guest blog by Carson Martinez, neuroscience student at New York University and intern for the International Neuroethics Society
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that in 2013 the number of adults in the U.S. with a diagnosable mental disorder within the past year was nearly 1 in 5, or roughly 43 million people. The Institute also reported that almost 10 million American adults, 1 in 25, have serious functional impairment due to a mental illness, such as a psychosis or serious mood or anxiety disorder. These staggering numbers are on the rise not only in the U.S., but also globally. By the year 2020, it is projected that the global burden of mental health disorders will reach 15 percent, and common mental disorders will disable more people than problems arising from AIDS, heart disease, traffic accidents, and wars combined. As mental health issues become increasingly prevalent, there is an urgent need to better understand their ethical, legal, and societal implications, including increasing access to treatment, reducing stigmas, and implementing neuroscience research.
The International Neuroethics Society 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago (October 15-16) will include several sessions focusing on the challenges of the rise in mental health disorder diagnoses, and on key issues at the intersection of mental health, law, and ethics. The all-day meeting on Friday, October 16 features a session, “Implementing Gray Matters: Perspectives on Bioethics Commission Recommendations” in which a panel will discuss the two-volume report Gray Matters, recently released by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission), and the Commission’s recommendations. Daniel Sulmasy, a member of the Commission, will moderate the panel of speakers: Hannah Maslen, William Casebeer, and Debra Mathews.
A second panel, “Global Mental Health,” will explore the ethical imperatives of improving mental health and the challenges of stigma, funding, and treatment. Panelists Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Dana March, and Judy Illes will engage in a dialogue on the size and burden of mental health disorders worldwide and discuss recommendations for improving mental health.
The evening program on Thursday, October 15, is free and open to the public. Titled “Is Professional Football Safe? Could We Make It Safer? Perspectives from Neuroscience, Law, and Ethics,” the event will take place from 5 to 7:15 p.m. Discussion will focus on The Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, which looks at the challenging physical and mental conditions faced by these athletes with the goal to understand and improve their health and wellbeing. Panelists are Alvaro Pascual-Leone, I. Glenn Cohen, and Damien Richardson; Nita Farahany will moderate. [If you are interested in attending the public program on October 15, please RSVP before October 12.]
For discounted registration for the Friday panels, sign up before September 10. Registration includes a continental breakfast, boxed lunch, and a reception during the evening poster session. Please contact INS Executive Director Karen Graham if you have any questions about the meeting or registration.