I know the state needs money to operate all the things that are involved in the lives of the people who live here. I’m not very politically or economically aware of the complicated big pictures, and don’t pretend to understand the complexities of all of that. So my thoughts are from a personal outlook.
Our new Pennsylvania state budget hits home in one very important way. Working in mental health for over 20 years, I have known hundreds of people with mental health issues. Those people are….people, like you and I, and like your brother and your cousin and your friend. Many of those people come to our programs, and other programs like ours all across the state, with no income because they have not been able to work in their recent pasts. They come to our programs to recover from their illnesses and find ways to improve their lives and go on with good lives, despite their mental illnesses. Many are successful in that journey, and some may be people you know and are not even aware.
Many of these Pa citizens depend on cash assistance for their only means of support. When you’re ill and have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance, a federal entitlement, and might have to wait 2 years to get it, cash assistance used to be able to save your life, literally. $205 a month doesn’t seem like much money to most people, but when that’s all there is, it’s just all there is.
Getting Social Security Disability Insurance is a long process, involved, complicated, and our agency has helped so many of our residents thru that process. We have also helped with their income struggles, while they lived on $205 a month, plus food stamps and medical assistance, in most cases. We could direct them to food banks and bent and dent stores and help to teach them ways to live in a frugal fashion; such a frugal fashion that most people couldn’t even begin to conquer it. $205 a month.
For anyone critical of this issue, it might help the thought along for you to know that once the SSD is granted by the federal government, the state welfare money is paid back to the state before the SSD money begins to be paid to the recipient. So, in essence, the state welfare money for these folks is a loan; to people who have no other choices. A loan, to some of our most vulnerable citizens, a loan which is now gone. No one knows now what will happen to those people. Many people obviously don’t care, given that the new budget has cut this out. But they are still your sisters, and your cousins, and your friends……….
Some people think that all people on welfare are just too lazy to work, and in some cases that is probably true. But if someone you know and love develops a devastating a mental illness, you may begin to understand why we in the mental health field are sad today.
For any malingerers who collected state cash assistance when you could have worked, shame on you. For mentally ill people waiting to get social security and collecting cash assistance as a means of support during that process, the state has spoken, saying: sorry about your luck. Or, maybe the phrase: Screw You better applies.
My rant is over; a rant written at a time when I’m angry and sad, and when so many things in our world are just wrong, and there don’t seem to be solutions for the people who need solutions the most. Thanks for reading.