For over 20 years, I have worked in the mental health system. Our system has never had a lot of money, and we have always had the challenge of finding ways to help the people who have these illnesses to have happy healthy lives—on a budget. Now, our economy is bad, and our state government is proposing 20% cut backs to our system.
Do you know anyone who has a mental illness? I bet you do, and you don’t even know it. People with these illnesses are …….people! They are just like every one else, except they have an illness that requires them to take medications and see their doctor. Just like people with cancer, or heart trouble, or, well, you get the idea. These people are your neighbors, your brother, your cousin, your friend. I developed a phrase to describe them that makes them real to people who don’t know them: these are people who like puppies, and cheeseburgers. They really are just like everybody else.
The services that help them maintain their happy, healthy lives as members of their communities are being threatened. Would you consider writing to your legislators and asking them to consider peoples’ lives? You, as an individual, could have an impact that would help so many people; those you don’t know, and some that you might.
Let me tell you what some people with mental illnesses I’ve known do with their lives. I know one person now who is going to school to be an LPN. Several who are working driving welfare clients to their jobs. One who is helping with Special Olympics. One who drives dialysis patients to and from their treatments. One who works for Penn Dot. One who volunteers at the Red Cross. Just a few examples, of people doing what people do.
The Patriot News today contains an article about three people who spoke up about the importance of the services which help them maintain their lives. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/04/mental_health_service_patients.html The Patriot News shared a video of their interview, and I would like to share it here. Many thanks to Dan Miller and John C. Whitehead for giving the people who will be affected by these cutbacks a voice. Their voice is so important, and needs to be heard.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring.