Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. Forty-three million Americans experience mental illness in a given year, but more than half never get treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers has been organizing clinicians to fight for improved mental health care treatment. In 2015, we negotiated a contract that forced Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit HMO, to hire hundreds more therapists, but far more still needs to be done. In California, Kaiser still has just one mental health clinician for every 3,000 enrolled patients, forcing patients to wait up to two months to see their therapists.
Seong and David Brown learned first-hand how long appointment wait times lead to tragedy.
One summer, their brilliant, beautiful teenage daughter, Elizabeth, returned home from college and confided in them that she was having panic attacks and cutting herself. But after getting an intake appointment at Kaiser Permanente, Elizabeth was told she would have to wait at least six weeks to see the Kaiser therapist again.
One year after Elizabeth’s suicide, the Browns are going public because they don’t want other families to suffer like they have. Last week, the couple was featured prominently in a front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle and CalMatters that examines the struggles families still face in accessing mental health care.
Now the Browns are telling their own story in THIS VIDEO we filmed with them. Please take the time to watch it and share it in your social networks.
The Browns had a good insurance plan. They were paying for quality coverage, yet Elizabeth never received the intensive one-on-one therapy or inpatient treatment she sought from Kaiser.
Would Kaiser, with its $46 billion in cash and investments, have denied her treatment for cancer or diabetes? Kaiser mental health clinicians won’t stop fighting until California’s largest medical provider finally takes real steps to fix its mental health services.
Sal Rosselli, President
National Union of Healthcare Workers