Sunday, March 15, 2015

Soap Box Warning Ahead

Soap Box Warning Ahead

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Sunday Salon post for the following
... what's she on about today...

In January of this year, the Governor of our illustrious state of Iowa, in his forward thinking wisdom, announced plans to CLOSE TWO  of the STATE'S FOUR mental health institutes. 

Brilliant... NOT! What the heck is he thinking!! With statistics touting 60% mental illness rate among only women's prison inmates and 56% of the homeless population suffering from substance abuse or mental illness (a population intrinsically difficult to sample so this feels like a low skewed stat based on only shelter treated respondents ) HOW can he think this can make anything in our state better?? 

His side: He claimed that inpatient stays at the facilities on the chopping block were of short duration and could be handled in their own community. That and he proposes collaboration with the Iowa University Hospitals and Clinics to provide care. 

Yup. that's it. That's his whole case. You buyin that? Nope. Me neither. In fact I was absolutely incensed by the short sighted, budget playing, lobby cow-towing move. No more Robbing Peter to pay Paul in Gov Branstad's budget, we'll just kill Paul. Nice. 

And that's the part that got me. This is one of the most uncharitable, Un-represented things I've ever heard a public official doing. He seems to have zero regard for the least and the lost, the marginilized and the hurting in his own home state. 

I'm ashamed of him. But I'm not going to hang my head and take it.

I'm not the only one who had such a strong reaction. Today I learned of through the following post of a Rally taking place this Thursday. I've never been to a rally about anything. But I think I'm moved to go to this one. I may have to go alone but I will stand arm and arm with the strangers-become-freinds as we make our voices heard that this is not... NOT... right and NOT what IOWA stands for.
The following is from Bishop Trimble of the United Methodist Church:
March 13, 2015
It is time for all of us to respond more vigorously to the mental health crisis in the state of Iowa. 
On Thursday, March 19, the National Alliance on Mental Illness will be at the State Capitol educating legislators about the importance of mental health services and the need for an adequately funded and staffed adult and children’s mental health system. Registration is at 8:30 am and the rally and speakers will be from 9:30-11:00 am.
As I write this, the Des Moines metro area is grieving the loss of two middle school children who committed suicide this past month and the death of a veteran who had requested psychological assistance for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who had been told there would be a several week wait before he could see a counselor. Questions remain as to what more could have been done. There is no question that more should have been done.  
This is just the tip of the iceberg:
•  1 in 4 persons experiences a mental health issue in America1
•  1 in 10 children experience a period of major depression2
•  Approximately 123,000 (4.1%) people in Iowa live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression 3
•  Iowa should have a least 1,500 psychiatric beds for the severely mentally ill; we only have 7504
•  In the past five years, we have closed 80 psychiatric beds, leaving only 10 dedicated psychiatric beds in Des Moines for all of Iowa’s veterans5

There are approximately 80,000 youth in Iowa with Severe Emotional Disorder6; in other words, children who have mental illness. The statistics are numbing: 
•  50% of students over age 14 who have a mental illness will drop out of school7
•  70% of youth in the juvenile justice systems have a mental illness8
•  90% of those who die by suicide have a mental illness 9
•  Only 20% of children with mental illness are identified and receive services10 
Iowa is 44th in the nation for number of psychiatric providers per person11. We are short of not only psychiatrists, but psychiatric nurses, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other psychiatric providers. The care of psychiatric patients will not get better until the workforce problem is taken care of. 
We deplore the fact that with the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, we have traded treatment in mental health institutions for warehousing the mentally ill in prisons. There are nearly 3,000 mentally ill inmates in Iowa’s prisons.12   
In 2013, Iowa recorded the largest number of suicides in our state’s history—445. 13 There is a major crisis of care in Iowa. Mental illness affects all of us. We all need to respond.
The United Methodist Church has a strong legacy of responding to the physical and mental health needs of all people. Our model is Jesus who had compassion and healed those besieged by mental illness.  
It is imperative that we, in Iowa, as a community which seeks excellence in all aspects of health—physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental—put our best efforts into improving our mental health system. Treatment must be available, timely, humane and affordable.  Therapists and counselors must be present in sufficient numbers so that those who are experiencing a mental health crisis are able to receive prompt attention. Psychiatric beds must be abundant to provide safe places for those who need inpatient care.  Insurance and other funding streams need to be adequate to provide needed services for those with mental illness.
We applaud the workers who provide essential care to those in need. We applaud the redesign efforts of the state to move toward community based (regional) mental health services. We encourage all those who are seeking to provide excellent services. We call upon all Iowans to support financially, spiritually and emotionally the people suffering from the variety of conditions we call mental illness.    
May our witness be helpful to legislators as we all seek to do our part to be compassionate and comprehensive in our care for those who need us the most. Please be a part of the solution on Thursday, March 19 at the State Capitol where we can inform legislators about the dire need for adequate funding and staffing for Iowa’s mental health system. Let us unite in facing this crisis together and rededicate ourselves to excellence of care for all with mental illness.
Be encouraged,
Bishop Julius C. Trimble

So, gentle reader, if you are from Eastern Iowa and want to tag along, let me know. I'll pick you up or meet you there!!

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