I wanted to let you know that mother is home today and under the care of home health care services. She is doing much better. She began to improved Thursday. We settled her in at her home yesterday.
She is expected to fully recover with some adjustments to her heart medications. She fell ill with, what we can only guess, a virus. However it was discovered that there are things going on with her heart rate that could cause serious problems. We never know what will come out of a rough spot in the road. All in all, things could not have worked out any better.
I appreciate all of you guys so very much. I thank you for your prayers. My mother thanks you for your prayers and your loving support. She, too, has found a family of friends among our DBSA understanding family.
Love and prayers,
Sent from my iPad
If the mental health system was sane…
There would be a range of services availible reflecting the human needs of those it serves.
Those services would be availible to those that need them.
Those services would be based on what works, not what makes money, reflects any particular philosphy or interest, and not because it is what we are used to doing.
Asking for help would not label someone, brand them, be a cause of shame, a source of discrimination. Asking for help should not be a problem.
It would realize that lack of a place to live, lack of food, lack of adequate clothing, lack of a job are frequently barriers and problems for the people they serve and address them in a direct and effective manner.
It would know that inadequate health and inadequate health care are common problems for the people they serve and be part of an effort to serve the entire person in an integrated fashion.
The goal would be to empower, educate, and support people towards gaining control over their lives so as to maximize their chances of leading happy, meaningful and successful lives.
This would not be empty words, but a passionate conviction that fuels and structures everything done in the system.
It would not mistake the people it serves for the labels it places upon them.
It would know that the most important thing about help is that it is what you do with people and not what you do to them. It would see itself as partnering with the people it serves.
It would know that people can say no and that not be a symptom of illness or distress.
It would view peoples values, hopes, thoughts, and aspirations as a source of strength and not a symptom of illness.
It would take substance abuse ultimately seriously. Drinking and drugging are the two primary ways people with mental health issues try to treat themselves.
It would make sure that one of the core experiences that someone seeking help has is contact and interactions with others who have dealt with similiar issues. It would treat seriously the idea that you can learn from the experience of others and them from you.
It would not tell people who have hard times or more problems they have failed or are failures.
It would take the issue of trauma seriously. Knowing how people have been hurt and not being part of hurting them further should be cornerstones of the system.
It would treat the issue of what happens in jails and prisons to people with mental health issues as a moral outrage and the impulse to do something about it as a moral necessity.
It would be honest about the risks and benefits of psychotropic medication. Help people to make real and informed choices.
It would treat families as important and not as irrelevant or a threat to what it is doing.
It would treat justice as a driving force and value in everything it does.
It would be honest with the people it serves about what it doesnt know if it wants them to have trust in what it does know.
It would attack the issue of suicide with passion. No one should ever feel like death is the best solution to life.
It would tell people that no problems make you less human,
It would view hope as realistic and know that when they dont they do more harm than good.
May 2014: Kathy Flaherty
Kathy Flaherty works as a senior staff attorney at Statewide Legal Services of CT, Inc. She has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the rights of the underserved. A graduate of Kingswood-Oxford School, Wellesley College and Harvard Law School, Kathy has 17 years of experience in poverty law, specifically focusing on housing, benefits, and consumer law.
Kathy lives with bipolar disorder. She makes full use of her work place’s very generous sick leave benefits and a flexible schedule. Kathy was diagnosed her first year of law school after being civilly committed. She was not permitted to return to Harvard until the next fall, at which point the school put conditions on her return.
During her third year of law school, she used the Harvard Law School newspaper as the forum to come out about her illness. Against the advice of the Office of Public Interest Advising, when applying for jobs after law school, she included her position on the council of former patients of McLean Hospital, making her disability fairly obvious. “If someone didn’t want to hire me because of my disability, I didn’t want that job.” Kathy says that she has gotten jobs because she has disclosed.
Kathy shares that her biggest barrier to the legal profession was getting admitted to the Connecticut Bar. Despite the fact that she had already been admitted to the Massachusetts and New York Bars, she had to wait for a year and a half and then was conditionally admitted. For the next nine years, she had to report that she was taking her medication, as well as provide a doctor’s note twice a year confirming that she was in fact taking her medication.
Since 1999, Kathy has served as a volunteer trainer, presenter, and facilitator for Connecticut’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-CT). Combining her personal experience as a recipient of mental health services and her legal background, she is able to speak to issues affecting those living with mental illness from a multi-faceted perspective. Her advocacy work has earned her numerous honors including the Dr. Karen Kangas Advocacy Award from Advocacy Unlimited in 2010. “Winning an award named for someone who is a role model for advocacy and a very dear friend is humbling.”
Kathy currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Advocacy Unlimited, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers-CT, and the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (CABLE). She also serves on Governor Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. Her goal for the future? “To continue to do work I enjoy.”
7 Things a Child with Depression Should Know
By Deborah Serani, Psy.D. on February 2, 2014 - 8:42am I know depression.
I lived with it as a child, watched it almost destroy me as a teen, and learned to manage it as an adult.
As a clinician who specializes in mood disorders, I like to teach kids and teenagers how to live with their depression. These tips offer children ways to understand their own unique self, become aware of their thoughts and feelings, and build resiliency as they manage the chronic illness of depression.
1) Understanding the texture of feelings: Many children in this era of super technology aren’t skilled at reading facial cues, understanding eye contact and complex emotions. Studies show that children with depression struggle further, however, having difficulty differentiating the differences between different kinds of emotions. Sad is different than lonely. Lonely is different disappointed. Often, depressed children need help understanding the textures of emotions. When they become confident identifying their feelings, they can set into motion the best plan of action to improve their mood.
2) How to spot negative thinking: I like to teach children about the quality of their thoughts by using a thumbs up and thumbs down technique. Is what you’re thinking a good thought….one that would get a thumbs up from other people? I studied for my test. But if I get a bad grade, it’s okay because I know I tried my best. Or is it a hurtful or negative? One that really is untrue and realistic. It doesn’t matter if I studied. I’m stupid and I’ll fail the test anyway. Teaching children to catch the negative talk helps them approach every issue in life from a place of positivity.
3) How to use positive self-care: Learning to live with depression requires a child to be clever and ever-ready to use soothing ways to address sad moods. Teaching kids and teens to use their 5 senses – sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell – really helps. Things like cozying up to a stuffed animal, hugging loved ones, snacking on healthy, flavorful foods, taking in the fresh air, listening to upbeat music and making time to see colors, nature and sunshine. All of these raise dopamine and serotonin levels improving mood, and teach children how to self-soothe.
4) Why exercise is important: The fatigue that comes with depression leaves kids tired and irritable. Physical complaints like aches and pains also knock them out for the count too. When we take the time to teach children about the importance of physical exercise, it will become part of a lifelong skill-set. Be it playing tag with friends or catch with the dog, swimming or riding a bike, kick-boxing or yoga, or a simple walk, the shift in neurochemistry boosts mood.
5) When too much of something isn’t good: It’s also vital for kids to learn how too much of anything can upset the apple cart. For example, the fatigue of depression can leave children tired, with many prone to sleeping all day. Instead, children should learn that a nap is better than a full-on sleepfest. Some depressed children eat in excess, while others lose their appetite altogether. Both of these extremes are unhealthy. Too much crying, too much avoidance or too much irritability raises the stress hormone cortisol, which heightens anxiety and alertness. When we teach children to monitor their experiences with healthy limits, we give them the ability to balance and self-manage their well-being. Daily stickers for young ones and journaling for the older set can teach children how to better monitor symptoms and moods.
6) Know the difference between a bad day and a sad mood: When depressed kids learn how to measure the moment, they learn that a sad mood doesn’t have to ruin a day. However, if they can’t shake off the sad mood – and the rest of the day feels like an epic fail, it’s great for kids to know that a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life. Tomorrow is a new day. One to be measured for its own value.
7) How to let others know you need help: When children are depressed, they often don’t know how to reach out for support. Their fatigue and irritability dulls problem solving skills. Others might not feel they deserve help or would rather isolate themselves from family or friends. Depressed children need to know that everyone needs help now and then – and that no one can …or should… handle everything alone. I like to teach children to communicate their needs verbally and non-verbally. With words, through crying, by touch – it’s okay to show you others that you’re having a tough time.
A very personal plea for medicaid expansion: a letter to the governor
Dear Governor Haslam:
But my decision to write this letter is about much more than the peer support centers. In your state of the state message you talked a couple of times about the importance of government giving good customer service. You seemed to put a lot of stock in that idea. It was not the first time I have heard you speak about it. The decision to fund peer centers was a great example of good customer service.
My hope is that you will consider my request in the light of that concept. I am in a desperate situation and without your help I dont know where to turn.
I want to ask you to reconsider your stance on medicaid expansion. I know you are in a tough spot. Anything that makes the Tea Party mad faces great obstacles in Tennessee and few things make them angrier than health care reform. Perhaps what I am asking you is impossible for you to politically do. Several people have told me it is.
As I said my situation is desparate. Let me take a minute to describe it.
I have been “free” of health care insurance for many years. It is a freedom I would gladly lose. I have been told that I need surgery. The surgery is a minor one that thousands of people undergo every year. No insurance means no surgery. The doctor tells me the lack of surgery though may not be a minor thing though, that in fact if my condition should become an emergency my life may be in danger. I pray every day not to die a preventable death. Many people have far more dangerous situations than me and face far more immediate risk. Being poor should never, at least not in Tennessee be the cause of anyone’s death. And without action on your part it will be though.
My desperation though is not based purely on issues of my health. It goes far deeper than that.
My wife is disabled and has been on TennCare for a while. She is a TennCare miracle. Without it she would have died long ago. Even with all her progress without it she would no live a month. In order to save her insurance and in a very real sense her life after 32 years of marriage we have had to separate. I dont know, without TennCare expansion we can ever live together again.
The situation is very complex, but let me share it with you as briefly as I can. My wife receives SSI for disabilities. Recently I took retirement from Social Security. It was the worst decision I have ever made.
We found out that in Social Security’s eyes, even though our combined checks left us below poverty, we made far too much money. Linda lost over $700 and her check was reduced to $20 a month. I told Social Security that I would have to get a job in order for us to survive. We figured without her check we had about $40 to live on for the month of January and we just cant live like that. Who could??
Social Security told us that since her TennCare was disability based and not income based (like it would be if TennCare was expanded) that if I made over $85 a month her TennCare would be lost.
I love my wife and wont let her die. The day after Christmas we separated. The hope is that with a separate address she can regain her SSI check. My hope is to move as close to her as possible. Right now I do not see how we can ever live together again.
You do not make the rules for Social Security and none of that is your fault. The law is what it is and despite its cruelty and hurtfulness we have no choice but to do our best to live with it. A law that supports the break up of thousands of marriages seems so evil, but I dont right now see how I can affect it.
I am asking for your help though. Maybe I dont have the right but I have no where else to turn. I know you deeply love and care for your wife. What would you say to me if our situations were reversed??
Please act. Whatever the resolution please act. My wife will keep her TennCare. I will never do anything to put that in jeopardy. Without your help though my marriage will not survive and for Linda and I that is a death of a different sort.
Mental health stigma resides everywhereStigma resides everywhere, especially mental health stigma. The urge to quiet the voices of those who live with challenges, those who are different or those whose choices don’t mirror the “norm,” seems to be overwhelming as of late. “Don’t air your dirty laundry.” How many of us heard that admonition as children? When we talk about mental illness, too often there are only two approaches discussed: sick or well, right or wrong. We talk about strong people and the weak people, those who feed their depression and mental illness and those who stoically rise above. When we talk about mental health in such limited parameters, we strip it of the crippling humanity that makes it possible: agony, loneliness, shame, trauma and stigma. We just tell people to think the right way, get the right amount of sleep and exercise, take the right meds, and when they don’t, we tell them to go away. In our current society, the mentally ill are considered the disease as much as the illness itself.
Here’s the rub: Change and recovery occur when things are faced. An acquaintance asked me recently why I speak openly about mental health recovery and surviving domestic violence and sexual assault. This well-meaning person felt that by airing my “dirty laundry,” I would cause myself more pain. Actually the opposite is true. When the mentally ill speak openly, others know they are not alone. Others learn what worked and what didn’t. By speaking – at first a whisper, then a roar – we lessen pain’s power. We learn to cope, we change the norm and we affect the changes we want to see.
Be part of the conversationThere is a well-known saying in mental health and social work circles:
“Nothing about us, without us.”
Only by being part of the conversation can we affect legislation, self-advocate for better care and show society that those with mental health conditions can live healthy, productive lives.
Why should we stand up and “air our dirty laundry?” To help those unaffected by mental illness but whom are the gatekeepers of the systems we need access to, to understand our reality. Because it reflects one-in-four person’s realities. Because stigma born from misconceptions can only be corrected by those who are affected. Because society needs to see us living lives and being productive with the proper treatment. Because we learn the most from those whose voices society tries the most to silence.
Mental Health Stigma: Airing our “Dirty Laundry” Posted on February 8, 2014 by Paulissa Kipp
Spirituality And A Wellness Based Lifestyle With Those Who Live With Bipolar Disorder. Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 09:00 to 10:00
Reverend Cheryl T. Magrini, MS.ED, MTS, Ph.D.
Why should we be talking about spirituality and mental illness? Many individuals understand the essence of what it means to be a human being through their spirituality, and I find that this is even more so for those who struggle, ones living purposeful life, and those who embrace their resiliency, all the while living with bipolar disorder. When living with a mental illness, it can be too easy to think one is weak, unworthy, deserves to be abandoned by “God– or a sacred source” or that the episode could have been controlled, or the individual healed of the behaviors of the mental illness if religious codes, or other sacred norms, were not violated. Is relying on the sacred – whether ultimate truth or transcendence – being strong or not being strong enough? At the center of these questions lies the way that an individual living with bipolar disorder defines their own spirituality, and there are persons who struggle with what this means at all. How then does spirituality inform and influence decisions and specific wellness practices? With spirituality being a central point of living with purpose, meaning, and resiliency, how and when is this integrated into the therapeutic treatment? These questions on spirituality and wellness were asked of twenty-two individuals in a one hour interview. Out of these interviews, through common themes and evaluating the differences as well, five insights have been identified that will be presented in the webinar, including quotes and comments from the individuals in the interviews. This research leads to additional questions to explore.
Reverend Cheryl T. Magrini, MS.Ed, MTS, Ph.D. is a United Methodist clergy, serving the Chicago metro area since 1998, currently with the First United Methodist Church in Chicago, an urban and diverse church. Cheryl publishes, researches, and speaks nationally in the religious education and congregational change fields; and since 2011 specializes in consulting with faith communities to develop comprehensive mental health programs in partnership with community resources. Her current research on resiliency is an extension of her spirituality and wellness study. The resiliency research focuses on identifying resilient qualities, how these can be developed, and the ways that individuals living with bipolar disorder draw on and rely upon resiliency to live with purpose, meaning, power, and strength. Individuals share their personal story of resiliency as the basis of the research. Cheryl is chair, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and on the IBPF Consumer Advisory Council, on the IBPF Consumer Advisory Council and President of the DBSA Chicago Loop Chapter.
Space is limited.Reserve your Webinar seat now at:https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/299258710
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
DBSA Opposes CMS Proposal to Eliminate Access to Mental Health Treatments as Part of the "Six Protected Classes"In a misguided effort to save money, CMS proposal would deny vital treatments for people with mental health conditions who are covered under Medicare Part DChicago, IL (January 17, 2014)
On January 6, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) circulated a proposed rule that would remove antidepressants and immunosupressants from the protected class status they received under Medicare Part D in 2015, and to remove antipsychotics from that status in 2016. Despite a growing public recognition of America’s mental health treatment crisis, the Administration inexplicably proposed undoing one of Medicare’s signature protections for people with mental health conditions by suggesting that when it comes to drug treatment one size fits all.
“DBSA advocates for the right of people with mental health conditions like depression or bipolar disorder to choose their own paths to mental, emotional, and physical wellness,” stated Allen Doederlein, President of DBSA. “Implementation of this proposed ruling has the potential not only to undermine hard-won treatment advances a person with a mental health condition may have made, but also to undermine a person’s ability to choose the right treatment that a clinician identifies as the best fit for a serious, life-threatening condition.”
For nearly a decade, the “six protected class” policy has ensured that Medicare patients with mental health conditions, many of whom have severe, treatment-resistant symptoms, have access to the most appropriate drug without having to go through “fail-first” experiences or lengthy appeals and grievance processes. Often, delays caused by these processes can result in suicide and other tragic outcomes, and inadequate treatment leaves people open to relapse, co-occurring conditions which greatly shorten lifespans, and increased suicide risk.
Commenting on the proposed ruling, Joseph R. Calabrese, MD, Director, Mood Disorders Program, Bipolar Dis. Research Chair & Professor of Psychiatry and Dir. Bipolar Disorders Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, stated “the effectiveness and tolerability of antidepressants can vary greatly among people who choose this treatment option. Our extensive clinical experience demonstrates that the best therapy for one person may be ineffective or poorly tolerated in another individual. Moreover, successful treatment frequently involves trial of several different medications in a quest to find the best treatment in terms of efficacy and tolerability. As a result, it is important that people with mental health conditions have access to a wide variety of treatments and that clear information about these options is available both to clinicians and the individuals they serve and treat.”
We understand that the Administration's proposal represents an effort to save money. However, CMS has clearly failed to anticipate the predictable increase in costs to both Medicaid and Medicare Part A from the resulting spike in inpatient admissions. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance strongly opposes this proposed rule and is joining other stakeholders in the fight against it. These activities include submitting comments to the regulatory rulemaking process which are due on March 7.
Background: In 2005, CMS directed that Part D formularies include all or substantially all drugs in six drug classes, including: antidepressant; antipsychotic; anticonvulsant; immunosuppressant (to prevent rejection of organ transplants); antiretroviral (for the treatment of infection by retroviruses, primarily human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); and antineoplastic. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act created the six protected classes, and the Affordable Care Act also defined them by name. Today, Medicare Part D plans must carry "all or substantially all" of the chemically distinct drugs in these categories on their formularies. For other categories, the plans can typically carry one brand-name drug and one generic drug.
The DBSA steps up
How Stereotypes Stop the Mentally Ill from Getting Help
Dec 6, 2013
Contending with a mental disorder is hard enough, but people who have one face another hurdle: the stigma associated with their illness. There is a widespread aversion to the mentally ill that is made up of “ignorance, fear, and discrimination.” Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has bipolar disorder, says that the things people say about it “can be painful.” Those things include the belief that people who are depressed are indulging themselves and should snap out of it. Dolly Parton subscribes to this notion and says it worked for her: she claims she ended a bout of depression by telling herself, “Right, get off your fat butt, or if you really are suicidal, then go and shoot your brains out.’” She doesn’t take into account that she probably could not have done that if her depression hadn’t been running its course on its own.
Another popular conception is that successful people don’t get depressed. Winona Ryderbelieved this herself, but at a time in her life when she had it all, she was hit with depression. “I remember feeling, ‘I can’t complain about anything, because I’m so lucky, I’m so lucky,”” she says.
Depression isn’t the only mental disorder weighted with misconceptions. For instance, some other disorders are believed to make everyone who experiences them violent.
It is not an overstatement to say that this stigma, though it exists only as abstract attitudes in other people’s minds, has devastating health consequences for people who are mentally ill. The United States Surgeon General wrote in a 1999 report that the stigma
reduces patients’ access to resources and opportunities (e.g., housing, jobs) and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for, care. In its most overt and egregious form, stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society.
The worst news there in terms of medical outcomes is that people do not seek help because they do not want to admit to themselves or for others to learn that they have a mental disorder. Zeta-Jones wants that to change. By talking publicly about her condition, she says, “I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who didn’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
The audience for her message is large. More than a quarter of the American population suffers from a mental disorder in any one year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Looking just at depression, the American Medical Association reports that up to 12% of men and 26% of women in the United States will experience it at some point in their lives.
That means that a whole lot of people are affected when the stigma prevents people from seeking treatment, especially considering the impact on the family, friends and colleagues of people with untreated disorders.
That is not to say that people are always affected by an afflicted relative’s or friend’s failure to seek care. With some illnesses, a person may be able to hide her condition despite devastating symptoms. A sampling of celebrities who have been or are mental ill shows that it is possible to conceal the suffering, at least part of the time. Dolly Parton, Jim Carrey, and Rosie O’Donnell all say they have had depression, belying their cheerful public personas. O’Donnell says that she had lived under “a dark cloud” since childhood, but didn’t get help until she was 37.
The stigma is particularly pronounced in certain sub-cultures. One of these is the military, which expects members and veterans to tough things out. Acknowledging and nurturing emotions probably isn’t that institution’s strong suit. That leaves veterans whose experiences in combat caused post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) isolated, sometimes shamed, and usually quietabout their suffering. In an article featuring the words of several veterans with PTSD, theMontreal Gazette notes that a “stubborn stigma…is rife in all ranks of the Canadian military.”
Sometimes religious communities also have trouble acknowledging mental illness in their leaders. A North Carolina Baptist minister’ssuicide, which shocked his congregation in 2009, was “a rare outcome to a common problem” among the clergy. One expert said, “We set the bar so high that most pastors can’t” reach it, leading to depression. An organization called CareNet operates 21 counseling centers for pastors in North Carolina alone. Its president, Steve Scoggin, said isolation and loneliness are the “greatest occupational hazards” for clergy. The fact that one state has 21 counseling centers just for pastors hints at the problem’s prevalence.
Another particularly vulnerable group isteenagers, who often do not seek help for fear of their families’ reactions.
The growing number of celebrities speaking publicly about their mental illnesses may help reduce the stigma that hurts so many. Education can help too. Informative resources include theNational Alliance on Mental Illnesses and Mental Health America.
Annie, President of DBSA Madison, was interviewed on a local Nashville radio station about her work with consumers. I believe she did a wonderful job. Click on the link below to hear the full interview.
Knowledge is power.
Women, people of color, LGBT brother and sisters know the bite of being pushed to the side. And no less do individuals suffering with mental health challenges know the feel of that bite, and stigma.
I say that one day they too will "stand tall at the front of the congregation" as do women, people of color, our LGBT brothers and sisters - without shame and fear or desires to leave life behind. For their day will have come.
So, won't you be one of the first to hug such a one you see pushed to the side, walk with them to their rightful place among others. If you can do this simple act, well my brother my sister, you possess knowledge and power.
It should be as easy to find help for mental health issues as it is to buy
by Larry Drain ,hopeworkscommunity
It ought to be as easy to get help for mental health issues as it is to buy a
gun. Barack Obama said something like months ago.
And that is a regrettable, discouraging, and preventable crime. It is a
crime that victimizes thousands and thousands of people each day, their
families, their friends, and their communities. It is a crime made worse
because it doesnt have to happen.
People recover. Given the tools, the encouragement, the support, the
guidance people regain and transform their lives. The testimony of
thousands of people point to this. It has been said so many times it seems
common sense. It is not, for way too many, common experience.
For the last 3 days I have been in Washington DC with over 700 other people
going door to door with our legislators asking them to help make it a more
common experience. We talked about several bills that could begin to drive
the changes to do just that.
While we were there 13 people were shot and killed at the Navy Yards.
It happened probably less than a couple miles from us. It gave our
discussions more edge and focus. Too often these incidents are seen as an
indictment of those with mental health issues. That is just so much
nonsense and that truth has also been well documented. The “mentally ill”
are much more likely to be the victim of violence rather than the agent of
it. Any approach which tries to “protect us from them” misses the point,
misses the target and substitutes fear for action as a solution to such horrible
It appears that the shooter at the Navy Yards has needed help for a very long
time, even made some efforts to get it, but fell between the cracks of a system
that has crowded cracks. I asked myself if he lived in my community would
he have received any better help. The answer very sadly is no.
He could have seen a therapist every couple of weeks, a psychiatrist every 3
or 4 months. Not just for him, but for many, many people who have never hurt
anyone (except maybe themselves) this just isnt enough. But there are
proposals out there that might make a difference.
“The Excellence in Mental Health Care Act” was one of the things we talked to
Congress about. It recognizes a simple truth.
The budget cuts in virtually every state have not just made it hard
not just to do business, but to do it well. Despite yeoman efforts by many
very skilled and dedicated people there are gaps in services everywhere.
Some people experience the services they are offered as skeletal at best,
particularly if they have more than a basic level of need.
The “Excellence…Act” says people should be paid well and paid for doing more.
The care you have access to is so often a function of your economic status and
where you live and this act tries to make it a function of neither. It
says that we have a wide range of services that evidence proves works and that
by paying people to do what works and do more of it things are better for all of
us. It is again a common sense that needs to become a shared reality.
Even with that there are still not enough boots on the ground.
Organizations like DBSA, NAMI and countless other state and local groups that
know the power of lived experience and our ability to help each other and
ourselves can and do play an integral role in helping develop a culture of
recovery. They know the central wisdom that life is transformed, not by
what we do to other people, but by what we do with them.
Another very important bill we talked about was a bill to fund on a national
level the training of “Mental Health Health First Aid.” Mental health
first aid is a community education program that aims to make each of us literate
about mental health issues and equip us to deal with the mental health crises
that so many of us encounter with family, friends, or just people we know.
Like first aid the aim is not to cure. It is to save a life, to stop the
bleeding. There is impressive evidence saying it works and makes a
difference. It is a lot of bang for comparatively little bucks. We
can do it and it would be so senseless and tragic not to.
In Washington I heard a lot from people who are worried about the cost of
services. The point is well taken, but misses a larger issue. How
long can we or will we pay for the consequences of mental health
issues. How long can we watch people drown and say we wish we had
the resources to save them? Nothing is done without the doing. If
you think your voice will not be heard I can promise you a voice not spoken will
never be heard.
The scorecard is truly sad. It is time to change the score.
1 in 5 who either experience mental illness or addiction.
Only 4 out of 10 needing help that receive it.
1,100,000 Americans who attempt suicide each year.
The average lifespan of someone with a serious mental illness is 53 compared
to the rest of the population.
100,000 lives lost to alcohol and drug abuse each year.
$300 billion in lost productivity due to mental illness each year.
It really should be easier to get help than it is to get a gun. But it
never will be without action on all of our parts. Share this with other
people. Talk with your representatives. Act. The only mistake
is not to.
It is time to tell people who struggle with mental health issues that they
need not settle for life as it is but have a real chance to find life as it can
Welcome to the blog for the DBSA/Tennessee. The purpose of this blog is to share the experience, wisdom and hope of the many people in Tennessee who are DBSA. Future posts will include reports from chapter leaders in the state about what is happening
S.L. Brannon D.Div..