The mental health crisis…

One item proposed in the GOP Senate’s “Better Care Act” was more cuts to mental health care. Fortunately that didn’t pass, but these cuts have been going on for a long time. Mental hospitals have closed and there never seems to be enough competent staff. People with mental health problems have nowhere to turn. Some have worried families and friends who don’t know where to turn either. Others live homeless on the streets of America’s cities. And others have come home from wars broken in mind and spirit.

The shooting in NYC of policewoman Miosotis Familia by mentally disturbed Alexander Bond is an extreme example of the tragedies that can occur. One congressman was attacked by his own son; the father hadn’t been able to find a facility for him. An obviously deranged fifteen-year-old girl encouraged her depressed boyfriend via cellphone texts to commit suicide (she received a 2.5 year sentence but she should have been committed). These are only three cases that made the national news where persons with a mental illness didn’t have the care they needed. Too many don’t.

And I’m talking about quality care, not more copies of that cuckoos’ nest immortalized in the movie. While no modern mental ward seems as bad as that or Salieri’s in Amadeus, they can be bad. Patients in care are often treated inhumanely with drugs and shock therapy instead of being cured. These “cures” can be easily ordered by mental health professionals and applied by an army of nurses and barely qualified technicians, so the cost is low. The institutions still functioning often sacrifice good care because of budget cuts. Add to that the closing of mental health facilities everywhere, you have a crisis.

Mental illness has always played second fiddle to physical illness. The human brain is very complicated, and our understanding about what can go wrong is in its infancy. This is another part of the crisis because funding in basic mental health research has also been cut. Someday cancer won’t be cured by destructive chemotherapy treatments but by designer drugs tuned to the needs of the patient. There’s more chance for this to happen than non-destructive cures for mental illness. The sciences of psychiatry and psychology, if their present state can be called science, need cash infusions for basic research.

A recent movie probably touched me differently than most people. A sniper who had served four tours in Iraq was killed by a mentally ill veteran. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, focused on the sniper’s patriotism. He was the victim that the Obama-in-the-chair director chose to champion. But what of the mentally ill veteran? No one championed him. True, the sniper was trying to help him, but the sniper had his own issues and wasn’t a mental health professional, so it was dangerous for him even to make the attempt. The short appearance of one mental health professional in the movie was almost a cameo.

This film based on real events—indeed, everywhere I look in the U.S.—shows how we neglect those who suffer from mental illness. It’s time to change this sad state of affairs. Hopefully when we finally settle on a national health plan that can work, it will offer more care for mental patients. The present status is immoral and dangerous for the patient, their families and friends, and the country.

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Rogue Planet. Hard sci-fi with Game-of-Thrones fantasy, shaken and stirred. This sequel to the “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy” is a stand-alone that differs from the trilogy’s novels. Prince Kaushal of the Second Tribe is a survivor of the First Tribe’s rebellion and creation of a theocracy so brutal that the Interstellar Trade Union of Independent Planets (ITUIP) has quarantined his home planet Eden. He and his companions struggle to change that. This sci-fi adventure is available as both an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords and as a print book on Amazon. Great summer reading!

And so it goes…

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