Saturday, October 19, 2013

UPLIFT Wyoming has vision

UPLIFT's vision is
Hope, health and well-being for all Wyoming children and families. 
You must have 20/20 vision for a statement like that. An abundance of hope.

The statistics are bleak. Alabama-bleak. Wyoming leads the nation is teen suicides. Not a single child psychiatrist lives and works within its 97,000 square miles. In 2012, Wyoming's overall health ranking dropped from 21st to 23rd. More than 23 percent of the population smokes.

OK, so maybe we rank better than Alabama by most measures. But we have problems. Most residents have to drive hours to reach mental health care. Youth are regularly sent out of state for mental health and substance abuse treatment. I know. My kids did just that. Broke the bank and almost broke the will. Only late in the process did we discover the state's children's mental health waiver, which paid for much of our daughter's care, both in-state and out.

Time will tell whether the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) will make a difference with accessibility to quality mental health treatment. We do know that insurers no longer can disqualify you for pre-existing conditions. And caps have been removed on quantity of treatment sessions. And we can keep our daughter covered until she's 26 (our son has aged out). Most students with disabilities take longer to matriculate than others. It's not unusual for them to take six or seven years to graduate. It's not unusual for them to be a boomerang kid, landing in your basement after graduation, Daft Punk tunes wafting up through the heater vents.

I just returned from a two-day board and staff retreat for UPLIFT. I've been a board member since 1999 and am just about ready to retire. It's a volunteer position. Most of us on the board have had personal experiences with challenging children.Our son Kevin was diagnosed at 5 with ADHD and, later, struggled with drugs and alcohol. Our daughter faced mental health challenges, first diagnosed as bipolar and then with borderline personality disorder. As often happens, she did some self-medicating.

It is tough on children to have these challenges. It is also tough on parents.

UPLIFT comes to the rescue. When it can. The statewide organization has its own challenges. Its budget was cut by a third when the state decided to re-channel its funding. It lost three offices across the state and 11 staffers. This is why you have retreats that address strategic planning and tries to come up with some big ideas for the future.

Funding cuts and priority shifts have caused the 23-year-old organization to look at itself anew. Wish us luck. And donate at the web site. Better yet, make a pledge to donate a certain amount every month. Go here. You never know when you may need expertise at your I.E.P. meeting or tips on applying for the Medicaid waiver or just a kindly person to listen to your dilemma. 

Tell them Mike sent you.

  • Smoking remains high at 23.0 percent of the adult population, with 100,000 adults who smoke in Wyoming.
  • The infant mortality rate declined in the past year from 7.2 to 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • - See more at:
    Smoking remains high at 23.0 percent of the adult population, with 100,000 adults who smoke in Wyoming. - See more at:

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