The beautiful animal in the picture above is a coyote but look at his eyes. He is a predator.
In the later twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the issues of mental health in our country have been given much lip-service. As a marginalized population, those of us who suffer from mental illnesses have seen the rise and fall of support and assistance. Let’s face it, treatment for mental illness is expensive. The lack of assistance costs even more.
I’ve been in the “system” from both sides. In my short-lived vocation as a Counselor, I saw tons of money spent by the government in various short-sighted programs that were genuine attempts to help the mentally ill and to attempt to put them in the workforce. Those programs were band-aid fixes that had little emphasis on the person and no guidance to help them succeed. As a patient, I have seen promises made to improve mental health services that were later recognized as an easy line item to eliminate in budget cuts.
Both sides looked pretty to the average American, but the results have cost us dearly. One state’s budget cut shut down a program that supervised acutely mentally ill adults during the day so that their family members could work. The same facility worked with autistic children giving them much needed therapy to have some quality of independent life. Those services were erased with the stroke of a pen.
Patients are having difficulties finding mental health services because of closings of the mental health departments that served the communities. The cost of medication has increased far beyond the ability of patients to afford. Many have found themselves living on the streets with untreated illness. Companies are losing man hours. There is an increase in suicide rates, especially in young people. Law enforcement officers are ill-equipped in recognizing the behavior of the mentally ill, so the population finds themselves in dangerous situations. The promises aren’t turning into reality they have become the predator.
We live in hopes that right and proper health services will come to help the suffering and curb the crisis that mental illness has become. We have lobbyists who work to raise awareness of the plight and inform the public that they are not alone in their suffering and that their voices will be heard. As individuals, we need to break away the stigma and speak out to become a change agent in the mental health crisis. Don’t be afraid to write letters or seek help from pharmaceutical companies to get your medication at a lower cost. We can do much to help ourselves while we wait for improved services. Our cumulative voices are strong.