Monday, October 03, 2016

One presidential candidate has a mental health care plan, and one does not

"I believe that together we can make sure that the next generation gets quality mental health care—without shame, without stigma, without barriers. And that we can do so much more to help people right here and now." 
Two weeks ago, with that statement, Hillary Clinton released her comprehensive mental health care agenda. She's not kidding -- it's comprehensive. If you don't believe me, go read it. Short version here. Fact sheet here. I read both. They include many of the elements that I have experienced while seeking care for our mentally ill daughter.

Does Donald Trump have a plan to help the mentally ill? Here's all that I found on his web site under "health care reform:"
Finally, we need to reform our mental health programs and institutions in this country. Families, without the ability to get the information needed to help those who are ailing, are too often not given the tools to help their loved ones. There are promising reforms being developed in Congress that should receive bi-partisan support.
It's something, right? I agree with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy that we all should stop calling Trump crazy as it demeans the mentally ill and furthers the stigma they bear. You won't see me referring to Trump as crazy on these pages.

This comes from the Oct. 3 Huffington Post:
Trump spoke at a veterans’ rally in Virginia on Monday, during which he addressed the high rates of veteran PTSD and suicide.  
“They see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” he says in the video above. 
Trump’s comments were part of a call for more focus and resources on veteran mental health. It’s a worthy call, of course, but his statement betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding about mental health. 
In other words, if you are a veteran with PTSD or one who commits suicide, you are not mentally ill -- you are weak. At least according to Mr. Trump. He's down at the Budweiser Event Center in northern Colorado this evening. Take a ride down there and ask him about this.

How to sum up the so-called mental health system in the U.S.? Inadequate, to be kind. Abysmal, the be more accurate. Chris and I have a decade of experience trying to get help for our daughter Annie, now 23. Annie has been treated in her home state of Wyoming as well as facilities in four other states: California, Colorado, Utah and Illinois. These are fine states, all with their own benefits and problems. But why, you may ask, did you have to send your offspring to the sunny shores of southern California and the bustling metropolis of Chi-town to get help?

She couldn't get the correct treatment in Wyoming. She tried, and we tried to help her. A 10-year odyssey, one that continues much to her pain and our chagrin and pain. One of its more frightening aspects is that Annie does better when institutionalized than when free to make her own decisions. That's opposite of the goal of mental health treatment, which is to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and instead rely on our own communities for treatment. It's often pointed out that we've failed miserably at this. Mental health treatment in rural areas does not exist. Wyoming features treatment centers in all of its 23 counties with emphasis on population centers, such as they are. Laramie County, the largest county in the state and home of its capital, is the site of CRMC Behavioral Health and Peak Wellness. CRMC BH used to feature inpatient treatment for adolescents. That no longer exists. The CRMC ER has four psychiatric crisis rooms and is usually at capacity as patients wait for beds locally, regionally or at the State Hospital in Evanston. Many mentally ill in crisis end up in jail, which has become a holding tank for the mentally ill without means.

Is this any way to run a railroad?

In fact, if we ran a railroad like this, one train in twenty would jump the tracks and two in ten would run late or not at all.

Other political candidates have talked about mental health reform. This time it's Hillary Clinton and she actually has a plan. Go read it and decide if it's for you and those you love. Then go vote for hope and change.

The Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers features a list of its members with contact info. Go here.

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