Friday, August 21, 2009

Need Public Deliberations on Mental Health Care, too.


Need Public Deliberations on Mental Health Care, too.

There’s an irony to the constant exposure we have had to mental illness in the last few years yet, public discussion of mental illness is missing in newspapers, T.V. reports and town hall meetings. The elephant in the room that everyone sees but no one will mention I would suggest is mental health care.

There was something about George W. Bush that I found so offensive I always avoided any news about him. Something about the way he held his mouth curved up in cruel ridicule and the way he hitched up his shoulders into a curve over his chest before he blurted out something ‘cute’ and offensive, things like that. When I understood (after quite a bit of denial) that he was going to run for the office of President of the United States of America, I was absolutely flabbergasted. So I sat down on the couch to view one of his stump speeches. The audience contained only handpicked supporters as usual, yet he was lying to them. He was lying even when there was no good reason to lie! Suddenly I realized; I knew him! The classic Dry Drunk.

I felt sick. So many people in the U.S.A. (and around the world) had the same moment of understanding due to the common experience with family, friends, coworkers, bosses and many, through their own addiction experience. Clearly the 12-step program is not solving the problem of alcoholism comprehensively. If health clinics were equipped to help people lose the alcohol addiction and people had insurance to pay for it, think of the huge decrease in alcoholism that could be accomplished! Think of the benefits to communities and families!

Then what a shock when the U.S.A. ended up with Dick Cheney as Vice-president! I don’t how he would be diagnosed by a professional. A person who promises a democracy to a country’s citizens, a country he then attacks by manipulating our government system and then watching the innocent citizens dying and imprisoned in unspeakable ways without calling the violence to a halt. A person with his power who can stand by and say, “Oh well, it’s working for me” can’t be high on the good mental health spectrum. I know there’s something about lack of compassion and a lack of the capability for emphasizing with others that signals some serious problems.

I have an anecdote about a personal experience in getting mental health care that is almost humorous, at least in a black humor. With my ‘excellent’ and expensive health insurance in hand I described to my p.g. the torturous headaches, sleep deprivation, fatigue and other symptoms that turned out to be classic depressions of depression. I asked if he could give me something to help me and he looked at me disgustedly and said rudely, “No, it’s all in your head.” I thought, “Well, yes, I thought to myself, it seems to be in my head.” But that was it he refused to help ease the pain or even speak of my problem.

I tried many years to find a good trustworthy empathetic therapist, and I congratulate myself for never giving up until finally after reaching; middle age I found a smart, helpful therapist who still helps with phone appointments. But just before I found her I was unhappily going to a woman who had problems with disrespect for her patients and alcohol problems. I stuck with her cause I had to have some connection to therapy and I was too tired to keep thinking. She didn’t want to diagnose me with depression; because I had come to her on my own volition I couldn’t be depressed (what was that about). Not only that she didn’t want to put on my health records ‘clinical depression’ for fear it would hurt my job opportunities in the future. I’m not comfortable with lying and I’m not ashamed that the serotonin in my brain has to be regulated so I said “write it down and let’s get something done here, for crying out loud. She suggested an average of four books to read at each of my visits and quilted me into entering group therapy. I was so sadly unaware I had no idea how I got into group therapy or how to get out! Many people have much worse experiences even unfortunately leading to suicide.

"Medical complaints arise from psychological factors at least as often as they do from physical problems,” according to the American Psychological Association.

"Despite what we’ve seen on television, I believe that serious debate is taking place at kitchen tables all across America. In the past few years, I’ve received countless letters and questions about health care.
Some people are in favor of reform, and others have concerns. But almost everyone understand that something must be done.” President Obama stated in Health Care Reform speech.

Over kitchen tables, we can be sure many friends, families and health professionals are including mental health in discussions about health care reform.

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