I’ve been away from blogging, but back now and writing after some time about mental health. My blog on Huffington Post is the first of many.
Few of us are from families that have not been touched, at the very least, by mental illness. How could we be? One in four of us experiences mental illness or neurological disease in the course of a lifetime. And, as Governor Chris Christie so eloquently pointed out this week when discussing drug addiction, it’s easy to judge and easy to place the blame when bad things happen to other people. The reality is that you could be simply minding your own business and doing just about everything as well as possible and still have your number come up.
Until medical science is far beyond where it is today, placing blame is a waste of time. Sure, we can take some responsibility for bad things that happen, but even then it’s usually in hindsight. Hopefully, we learn and do better. People with mental illness need our help. Their families need that help too. That’s one place where we can definitely do better.
So, when well-intentioned people gather to change the appalling lack of excellent mental health care, the last thing we need is politicians taking strident stands, refusing to move forward and sentencing others to life-long despair. We can do far better. And with the first bipartisan step in the passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) that occurred this week, we need to be sure we don’t allow the momentum to cease.
As a former debater, a professor of persuasion and politics, I expect there to be weaknesses in whatever solutions are proposed. As a person, a friend, a relative of people who suffer, I’m anxious to hear all sides. But to allow mental health care to remain in a deplorable state helps no one. The harm is inestimable, the pain excruciating. As a researcher, I know that there are few answers that can be completely supported as we work in a domain of probabilities, not of fact. But there is one fact: We cannot afford the status quo. It is unscientific, it is unethical, and it is immoral.
How to help: Members of the Energy & Commerce Committee listed here. Send them and/or your senators and congressional representatives a note or forward the Huffpo blog and urge them to vote for HR2646. Ask for a reply!