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Mental Illness, Miriam Carey and Meager Healthcare

I might as well start off with an admission that I am not aware of solid details regarding the mental state of Miriam Carey, the young mom whose life ended tragically this week as she was gunned down after a complex situation in our nations capitol. However, because mental illness has been offered as a possible contributing factor in her actions in Washington, DC, it once again causes me to reflect on the issue of Mental Illness/Health in a general sense – even apart from Miss Carey.

It cannot be denied that the system of care when it comes to mental illness, is woefully inadequate and underfunded. Not to mention, the accessibility of professional mental healthcare for the financially challenged are limited.

Certainly, I believe that professional psychologists and psychiatrists are worthy of due salary, my issue is not with them. However, I do take issue with a system that is not set up to offer assistance to those who are uninsured, unemployed or employed but barely getting by. The average cost for a 45-50 minute therapy session is between $150 – $185. When you add the cost of multiple sessions together, for impoverished individuals, the care is just not feasible.

Contact many professional counseling centers and you will be turned away. Even centers with sliding scale fees only slide but so far, most, not less than $45. And even then, you are not always offered the care of a licensed, credentialed professional, but someone with only an MA, if that. The message the ill person hears in that is that they are worthy of lesser or lower level care.

So, does an under resourced person actually receive the treatment they need and get their issues addressed in a manner that puts them on a path to wellness? Maybe, maybe not.

The truth is that if you don’t advocate for yourself, and aggressively pursue and seek out help you can afford, you will likely not get the help you need to resolve your mental health issues. AND, the truth is that most individuals who suffer with mental illness or mood disorders rarely have the strength of mind, and energy to do that – especially when they have no idea where to look and when they think they may have found a place that can help them, they get rejected and referred to someplace else; and then that “someplace else” rejects them and refers them to someplace else. And this happens over and over again, which causes people to give up and lose hope of wellness. And the end results are not usually good, lives end badly and tragically.

In all of this, there are things that I long to see:

1. The normalization of Mental Illness where it reaches a level of being treated as well as any physical illness

2.The erasing of the stigma and imposed isolation experienced by those who suffer with mental illness and mood disorders.

3. For churches and other faith based institutions offer support for the mentally ill within and without their congregations. And that can take on many shapes and approaches

4. For churches to let go of hyper spirituality and accept that people need more than encouragements to “pray more” and “trust God.” And for others, to cease considering mental illness demonic.

5. Mental Healthcare Funding stops experiencing budget cuts

6. Increased education regarding care for those who battle mental illness and humanization; there is too much stereotyping, broad brushing and assumption

Statistically speaking one in every four adults experience mental illness; one in seventeen experience major mental illness. Consult NAMI for more detailed stats. But it is worth mentioning in that it highlights the seriousness of the issue. We can do better and we should. Bemoaning the tragedies that stem from mental health issues is not nearly enough.

The bottom line is that Miriam Carey was a person, her family and friends need support and a whole lot of love as they search for answers and grieve the loss of their daughter, mother, sister and friend.