I am writing to you today because I have been affected by borderline personality disorder (BPD). This illness has a devastating impact — emotional and financial — on individuals, caregivers, families and society. Those who suffer from it are in indescribable pain.
Up to 5.9% of the population suffers from BPD — more than twice that of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder combined. "Borderline Personality Disorder" is the most viewed term on NIMH’s website and yet it receives less government funding than any other mental illness.
An estimated 10% of individuals with BPD will die from suicide, 60% will suffer from major depression, and 60% will have a substance abuse disorder. But while suicide, depression, substance abuse and eating disorders receive an enormous amount of NIMH dollars, BPD, which often encompasses all four, is not even a target population for research.
- This is not acceptable to family members in the trenches, desperate to help our loved ones.
- This is not acceptable to individuals with BPD, who want to thrive and function in society.
- This is not acceptable to clinicians, who want to provide better treatment options and services.
This is not acceptable to taxpayers, who have had to endure the huge financial burden of paying for those with BPD, a large majority of whom are unemployed, cannot afford the medical costs of treatment, and often wind up incarcerated, homeless, or addicted.
At least 18 million Americans suffer from BPD in their lifetimes. Assuming each affects a minimum of five other people, the lives of 90,000,000 Americans are negatively impacted. Shouldn’t this be considered one of our country’s largest public health emergencies? Why are our representatives in government not paying attention to BPD?
It’s time to make borderline personality disorder a priority and move it from the back to the front of the line in mental health research. The recent breakthrough research into genetic biomarkers for schizophrenia shows what can be done when adequate funding is available for specific mental illnesses. We implore you to commit funding for research on borderline personality disorder proportionate to its impact on society, and give it the recognition it deserves in the field.
- Acting Director, National Institute Mental Health
Increase Funding for Borderline Personality Disorder Research at NIMH
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