A LETTER TO SHARE OR TO COPY AND PASTE by Dede Ranahan

TO ALL 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

I often hear discussions about mental health awareness, but don't hear discussions about serious mental illness (SMI). 
With SMI, (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD), some people do not recover and cannot work or live independently. Some are so sick they don't realize they're sick (anosognosia), don't respond to treatment (if they get it), and end up incarcerated, homeless, missing, suicidal or dead.

The SMI population represents roughly 5% (10million) of the mentally ill in the US. And ten times as many people with SMI are incarcerated as are hospitalized. These individuals don't get the attention they deserve and consistently fall to the bottom of the proverbial heap.

If it "takes a village to raise a child," it takes a country to help a "child" with SMI -- parity in mental health care, IMD exclusion repeal (beds), HIPAA reform, housing, hospitalization instead of incarceration, brain disease research, supported education, and on and on. So far, our country is not stepping up. A serious mental illness system does not exist.

The presidential candidate I'll support will have the courage and insight to raise SMI issues and to create a plan to deal with them on a national scale. 

What is your plan for SMI? (Not mental health. Not drug addiction.) I would like to read about it on your website. Thank you for your prioritization of SMI issues.

If you agree, please share widely. Or copy and paste.

#seriousmentalillness #SMI #schizophrenia #schizoaffectivedisorder#bipolardisorder #depression #OCD #parityinmentalhealthcare #IMDrepeal#HIPAAreform #braindiseaseresearch #treatmentnotincarceration#soonerthantomorrow

http//www.bit.ly/soonerthantomorrow

IT'S COMFORTING TO KNOW THAT YOU JUST GET IT (PART I) by Anonymous

January 27, 2019: On Friday the hospital social worker called. We had a plan set in place for my son's release. He was supposed to go to a residential living/treatment facility, but this morning, I spoke to his nurse and she said he's set for release tomorrow and she doesn't know if they’ve found a place for him yet. Due to not having insurance, she said, “There could be a problem.” This is a completely different story from the conversation with the social worker on Friday.

This was a shitty decision to have to make — to say my son can't come home because he won't stay med compliant and because I'm afraid of him. I was sad, but relieved that he would be in a safe place getting treatment and, after 10 years (two years dealing with the mental health care system), he and our family would be able to breathe. I can't take a breath to relax, even when he's in the hospital, because I’m still dealing with red tape BS.

Ug. Twice, on this Sunday morning, I’m told there’s no residential treatment facility available because my son doesn't have insurance. “You can just let him go to a homeless shelter if you’re afraid." 

So, this "mama bear" lost her stuff. The social worker put in an emergency call to my son's psychiatrist. He called back right away and began the usual "blah blah blah." I kept pushing, telling him what my son and family have been through — beatings from cops, sleeping with a gun in his bed that we had no idea he had — and everything we’ve seen.

Finally, the doctor said he could petition the mental health court to get him into the state hospital. We’ll have to go before a judge, my son, and his public defender and tell them everything from the beginning until now. The doctor said, “It's not a guarantee. The judge may deny your petition. Are you and your family willing to do this? Because it's hard. Your son will be medicated, probably calm. In the hospital, he's not nice or happy to take meds, but he's doing it.”

I said, “My family is ready to face this to get him the consistent long-term help he needs.”

Since every thing changes every day, with every conversation, with every person you speak to, I'm waiting for another phone call telling me something completely different. I'm so pissed. It's hard enough for a family to deal with a loved one with mental illness who has zero insight into his brain disease. Then, when you finally are able to get him to a hospital for help, you have to deal with the red tape, the social workers, and the nurses who all tell you something different.

I'm a strong woman but I'm mentally exhausted. I'm sorry. My friends and family really don't get the ups and downs we go through as caregivers. When someone says, "I feel your pain," I need to know that you do. I don’t like to hear that anyone else is suffering like me or my son — I wouldn't wish this life on anyone — but It’s comforting to know someone really has an understanding of mental illness and that you just get it. May the force be with all of us.  

My son one year before college graduation.

My son one year before college graduation.