Friday, January 14, 2011
"The mental-health-care ‘system’ in America is a broken system,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “The system was already in crisis, and has become even less accessible over the last three years as state budgets for mental health—psychiatric beds [in hospitals], counseling, and other services—have been cut by $2 billion. States have eliminated 4,000 in-patient psychiatric beds.” NAMI’s Katrina Gay adds, “In many cases you can’t even get an evaluation for two to three months—and that’s assuming you know how to get one in the first place.”
As someone who has had a small brush with the mental health system I think I can safely say that it is not all that it could/can be. Lucky for me, and the rest of society, I am a strong person and my situation was not at a critical level. I was not hearing voices telling me to do really bad things. Things had just gotten hairy and I found it in my best interest to call a help line.
I could not have been more dismayed. Now I can find it amusing, but at the time it wasn't. I was pacing in my basement when I called, feeling edgy and a bit urgent, and the person who answered could not have been less helpful and pissed me off more. So much so that I HUNG UP!! In my state I hung up on the help line. I tried again a few days later and the same thing happened. Astounding. This is a help line? I got a better response, late one night, from the Internet and a counselor on the Boys Town help line.
If this is the experience that I had how many people are having even worse? How many are not getting the help they need? If I had taken drugs or even been in a worse state who knows what might have happened.
I don't know all the answers, but I do credit an excellent medical doctor for getting me on the track to recovery, and I think that our system needs to be looked at and given an overhaul. My medical doctor recognized the signs and got me on the correct medication and in to see a wonderful counselor, but how many people do not have these ready options? The services that are out there, for the less fortunate, need to be revamped and all the safety nets need to be fixed and put into place.