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Identifying and treating mental illness in young adults

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A metal-barred doors stands open in a hall of the
A metal-barred doors stands open in a hall of a psychiatric hospital. Many individuals don't have easy access to psychiatric help.
AFP/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado shooting, the mental health of 24-year-old suspect James Holmes is being called into question, and leading many to think about the current prevention and intervention systems in place in our country for treating mental illness. 

For young people in their late teens and twenties, often looking for careers and lacking health insurance, it can be difficult to access medical attention, or even to have worrisome symptoms properly identified.

How can mental illness lead to serious tragedies, and what are the warning signs to look for in young adults?

From The Daily Banter

Until as recently as late 2008, mental health wasn't required to be covered in employer-based health insurance plans. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was the first successful piece of congressional legislation that forced health insurers to cover mental health, and it was clandestinely smuggled into law as an amendment to the bailout signed by President Bush while the economy was collapsing. Most of our traditional health insurance policies still, to this day, don't cover mental health medications and therapy.

As a society, we just don't regard mental illness with the same level of importance as other more "visible" diseases because, until someone totally snaps, mental illness boils under the surface behind eyes that seem perfectly lucid, while sufferers, in some cases, don't even recognize their own disease. If mental illness generated a visible tumor or bloody discharge as an early symptom, theater-goers in Aurora might have lived happily to see another film. But because it lurks deep in the brains of its sufferers, it's too often brushed under the rug and ignored.

Dr. Harold Koplewicz joins The Daily Circuit on Tuesday to talk about what gaps in this country to ensure that people suffering from mental illness get help before tragedies occur. Professor Frank Farley will join the discussion, as well.