First let me mention that this post IS NOT about politics, it is a reflection.
I was just reading an article about the changes in healthcare. It’s not really easy to understand, well not for me anyway. What bothers me the most is how basically NOTHING is being said about “mental health” care. It makes me think back on the days when I was a Case Manager for Cuyahoga County in Cleveland back in the 80’s, and while President Reagan was in office it was decided that the mental health or psychiatric hospitals were no longer necessary and somehow they were all closed down.
I was at that time in the “Intake” Department. Not the place you wanted to be, because it was a chaotic mess and though we had security guards it was probably the toughest day of their lives and watch ever! We received a warning and the next thing you know this very large man busted through the side door dragging two security guards. He was a very ill man and how they thought it was ok to release him was a mystery to us all. It took several security officers and police to subdue him. He hurt a lot of people because he was very big, very strong and very sick. The image of the situation followed me a long time. The man was released from a facility named Fairhill. Many of the patients from that location were transported to our offices to be evaluated for what they called at that time “General Relief.” It was hectic and scary for everyone involved. Months went by before things settled down. It seems as though that is when homelessness really began. Most of the people released from these mental health facilities had NO PLACE TO GO and I couldn’t even imagine someone being able to allow the guy that the security officers had so much trouble with live in their home.
It was a hurtful time because it just seemed so cruel. I had an ill brother and it was already very difficult for my Mother and family to care for him. Yet, he was very fortunate, in the midst of those circumstances. I know first hand as a sibling with a brother who has a mental health disease that it is NOT easy, but you do what you can and learning is an ongoing process.
Oh, God I pray that we never see anything like that happen again. Mental health has come a long way, even though it is not “great” it is so much better. I have heard from a few people I am in contact with who either have a mental health diagnosis or is a caregiver and they are very nervous. Just not sure about what is going to happen next. I will say that the decision back then did cause a great number of problems, yet it forced us, (thinking of how we struggled with my brother) to be creative. We had to learn that we couldn’t give up, we had to support each other and keep striving! AND now we must keep supporting one another, share information, as well as resources, we must keep moving forward and not look back. Let’s help all “HEAR THE MUSIC!” So that the stigma will not be such an issue.