Saturday, February 16, 2013


For the first time since I came in contact with the mental health system in 1964, I fear the system and the government funding it.  I didn’t fear it as a teen.  I didn’t fear it in the military.  I didn’t fear it through many hospitalizations in public, private, and Veterans Administration hospitals.  I didn’t fear it on more visits than I can count.  However I must be honest, I fear it now for a couple of reasons.
First, I fear they will continue to take funds away from the system until it doesn’t even have the skeleton bones of a system left.  A time limit on services is in direct conflict with the concept of person-centered recovery.  All of us with a label that is considered a severe and persistent mental illness have the dream of regaining the life we had before the illness stole some of our abilities.  The journey to regaining some or all of our stolen abilities is an individual one.  It does not fit well into arbitrary timelines or pathways designed by a system.
I understand that money is an issue, but it is not the only issue.  Few people in the field truly believe that the person has a right to determine their own path and pace.  I have met few mental health professionals or for that matter consumers working in the field who were not ready to “fix” me if I would only listen to them.  It is hard to watch people make what we think are mistakes, but true progress can only be made when the person is heading in the direction of their dreams and heart.  It is then they will get up and go again after each fall.  The pace may be slower, but it is truer, more dignified and shows that those helping truly are listening and care.
Second, I fear the system will be forced by public opinion and thus the government to use major portions or its underfunded resources to chase after the potential mass killer.  Don’t take this to mean I am not concerned about gun violence because you would be dead wrong.  I am concerned about using limited resources on a fool’s errand.  Expert after expert has come out and said we can’t predict who might be a mass murderer.  The system may still try if the government takes money and demands they do.  I don’t have a violent history, but I could still become a target if I said the wrong thing in a therapy session.
To fear your government in a democracy is a sad thing, but the reality is I do.  Maybe you should think about what I am saying.  Maybe you ought to fear this craziness too!   

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