Mental Illness and Access to Care

This is a blog post that was originally posted at Brainwashed. We have gotten rid of that blog and made that a page for our soap. All content will be moved here to A is for Almac. 🙂

 

I was looking through my tweety page earlier today, just kind of browsing, passing time and I saw that in the UK, 70 million work days are lost because of mental illness. Holy crap, that’s a lot of time off. So, I started to wonder, just how many people get paid, or have benefits for mental health days? My guess, not many. I know that when I had benefits from a job outside the home, I didn’t get mental health days. I got sick days, maybe some vacation days, but no mental health days. If I called in asking for a mental health day, it was usually denied.  If you take your sick days, eventually you use them all. If you don’t have benefits? Well, you’re screwed. You could be fired.

Mental Health America says that the percentage of people in America that have a mental illness and did not get care for it, is 56%. In America. Whoa!!! W.T.F?

Why is this still an issue? Access to doctors, insurance, money, and facilities, embarrassment. In Kansas, they did not expand Medicaid. That means for a lot of people in Kansas, they don’t qualify for insurance under the Healthcare Act, because they make too little money to qualify for a lower premium credit AND make too much to qualify for medicaid. They are then stuck with nothing.

So what happens if you don’t have access to care and don’t get help?

We all know it affects your family life. It takes a toll on the people you love and who love you, there’s no doubt about that.

As I mentioned above, you could have employment problems, including losing your job. You could even lose your home.

Mental illness doesn’t go away. It can get worse and even cause other health issues. Stress can cause high blood pressure (which can lead to heart attacks and strokes). Depression can play a role in weight loss or gain and fatigue.

Suicide. Living with a mental illness is exhausting. It can cloud your judgement, make you feel hopeless and unloved. It can make you feel alone, all of which can cause someone to think there is no other way out.

This needs to change. People need access to help. So, how do they get it?

Low income clinics. Here in Lawrence, we have a couple of clinics that are on a sliding income scale. The less you make, the less you pay.

Family doctors. If you are lucky enough to have a family doctor or a primary care physician, that is a great place to start. They can make recommendations for the next steps and even help manage medicines.

Mental health clinics. We have Bert Nash, a fantastic mental health clinic here. Leavenworth has the Guidance Center. Both work on sliding scales and offer access to mental health workers and people to talk to. They usually work within counties they are located.

Family and friends.

Quite often, we need to be reminded to reach out for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, or an inability to take care of yourself. I’ve been there, it’s hard. Almost impossible for someone who hates asking others for anything. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your life is important.

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