Our Weakest Links

February 25, 2009

"A group is only as strong as its weakest link." ~ Anonymous

I have heard the above statement many times and like many anonymous sayings that are now considered trite, it still holds true. "Knowledge is power"is another such statement and my personal favorite.

It's time to stop speaking in vagueries-the "group" I'm thinking of is the United States and "its weakest link" are those with mental illness. Everyone with mental illness is considered weak in this country, for everyone has the potential to cost taxpayers tons, as there is a high percentage of mentally ill in state hospitals and jails. Many are homeless.

There are many others who have mental illness and who lead successful lives (in whatever way you choose to define success), but no matter what way a person in this country who has mental illness stands in this country's social ladder, they are still considered one of this nation's "weakest links."

I received an email from NAMI today outlining several victories in at least Georgia's government:

"Mark Butler and the committee, which oversees the health and human services budget, met yesterday afternoon to make changes to the governor's '09 supplemental budget. A few line items were partially restored:

1. $ 25,000 was restored to suicide prevention
2. $ 91,000 was restored for adults with mental illness for the Georgia Crisis and Access Line
3.$ 2.4 million was restored to the cut for non-medical adult mental health services

The positives:
- Outcome of these changes will provide an opportunity to restore these monies in the 2010 budget as well."

But this is not enough! Read on:

"Clearly, we are disappointed that these cuts were so limited in scope. There was no restoration of money for children's mental health services, addiction services, and supported employment."

Now I do not support a big government-type philosophy, but I do support using the money we already are going to spend for the people that need it the most. Surely children and teens with mental illness need this money.

Here is an analogy about insurance companies that I think also applies to government spending: I could have insurance that pays for my medications, so that I can afford to take them, so that I can get a degree in music therapy, so that I go visit people in a state hospital. I'll make money and pay taxes. Sure, my medications are expensive, but wouldn't it be a lot more expensive to pay for all of my living expenses, as I stay in a state hosital that is responsible not only for my medications, but for my clothes and food and music therapists?

"Now is the time to push the senate hard to make additional dollars available in the 2009 budget for mental health and addictive services."

Tomorrow I will post on how to contact your government officials on these issues.

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