Dora Calott Wang, MD in Psychology Today describes what we all know– cutting back on mental health is costing us all…
As a psychiatrist, I remember when I once did everything in my power to keep a disturbed patient stable, and society safe. I’d see the patient every day, or hospitalize the patient for months, if necessary. Needless to say, this degree of attention is impossible today, given limited resources, and the fights my staff and I regularly undertake with insurance companies to get even routine care approved.
For decades, the American health care system has prioritized profits, often by excluding the sick. This travesty is now coming to roost, in the form of mass violence, such as the recent shootings in Tucson, at Virgina Tech, and in communities across the country, including my own. Medical care for our most disenfranchised citizens will never turn good profits-yet basic health care for everyone, is necessary for the stability of society.
She points out that it’s easier to get a gun than to get mental health treatment. Arizona had cut budgets for mental health, and most other states have as well.
People with mental illness are more likely to be poor, more likely to lack connections or influence. When we cut the social safety net, they suffer first. Most people with mental illness don’t act violently, they suffer quietly.
Dismantling the very small first steps toward health care reform will do nothing to help people whose illness keeps them from being able to get a job with good insurance, and tax cuts won’t take the place of coverage for the care they need.
Every tragic incident makes us more scared, more angry. This isn’t random, it’s predictable. Neglecting people in trouble brings trouble for the rest of us.