IF I WERE PRESIDENT: Addressing The Mental Health Challenge In America

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Edition: 022017 – Words: 1058 – Audio: 09:14

 

Reality Disclaimer – The following is fiction, presented to illustrate that even an average guy can do better than Trump as president, and in no way constitutes my desire to run for any public office of any kind.

ADDRESSING THE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE IN AMERICA

 

THE ISSUE

There’s been a political stillness about mental illness for decades.  We all pretty much acknowledge that there’s mental health issues in the country.  But that generally stems from public awareness of high-profile afflictions like PTSD in returning veterans, the growing suicides with young people, and those random mass shootings.  Mental illness is far more mainstream than just the events we hear about in the media.  Some studies have concluded that serious mental illness affects 6% of the general population.

Do a search on mental health stats anywhere on the net and you will see the frequency of mental health problems will affect in varying degrees nearly 50% of the entire population in their lifetime.  Some people in that category will be “cured” with therapy in a short time, others will be the worse (that 6%) of the worst and could last a lifetime… and be a threat to themselves or others.  Now, having some form of mental illness does not mean one will end up an axe murderer.  There are many lesser categories of mental illness and it’s that broad range of treatment possibilities that makes the problem even more complex.  It’s all about the human brain and how the brain reacts to physiological events.  Sometimes it can be genetic, a chemical anomaly, a traumatic event, an injury, or just plain nature versus nurture environments.

Mental illness is not new, it’s just being diagnosed with more accuracy.  Is it more prevalent with our complicated, competitive, and technological society than in “the old days”?  Yes, but there’s also another factor.. a growing population.  For the sake of argument let’s say that the 6% of the population has serious mental illness, and that’s been a constant number for the last 60 years.  I was born in 1951.  The population of the nation at that time was 154,877,889.  Well, 6% of the population back then would have been 9,292,673; a hefty number to be sure with folks having severe mental illness.  The last census was 2010.. and the nation’s population increased to 310,232,863… a 100% increase since 1951.  When we look at our 6% number, that’s a whopping 18,613,971 people in this country with severe mental illness in some form or another.  That’s the entire populations of either New York or Florida.  This is epidemic and as a nation we need to get a grip on this for many reasons’ these are just three…

  1. For the health and well-being of every citizen in order for everyone to be able to have a good quality of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
  2. To assure the continued safety of all Americans by reducing the risks of either being a victim of a person suffering from mental illness, or that person harming themselves.
  3. To assure that the Constitutional rights of persons suffering from mental illness are not infringed to the extent that the risk to themselves and/or to the general public is the primary consideration in treatment.

 

PROPOSAL

The complexities in attempting to manage and treat mental health issues in American society is wide in scope, broad in context, with extensive legal ramifications across the board.  This does not even take into consideration future technical medical advances in the study of the brain or future practical treatments.  Given all that, my proposal would be a forming of some sort of presidential commission, task force, blue ribbon panel, or entity of equal importance and authority, made up of scientists, medical people, legal minds (especially in Constitutional law) , congressional members, psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians, and any other pertinent representatives.

This entity should be chartered to review, evaluate, and recommend to the president and Congress a national action plan toward forming a national policy regarding the treatment of mental illness to extend out five to ten years.  This review should include but is not in the least limited to…

  • Current diagnosis and treatment
  • Current status of understanding the brain
  • Scientific tools for cerebral treatments and diagnosis
  • Short term advancement in mapping and understanding the brain
  • Long term expectations in mapping and understanding the brain
  • Treatments as they relate to civil liberties
  • Protections for the patient and the general public; legal options.
  • Funding sources for patient treatment
  • Funding sources for scientific study.

This commission should have open access to all public resources.  Deadline: 12 months

Within 6 months of the completion of this committee’s recommendations the president and Congress should have established a five to ten year policy to address mental health.  Why 5 to 10 years?  The scientific advancements anticipated in brain manipulation and treatments will likely require periodic review for ethical, Constitutional, and moral ramifications.  Especially when you think about the possibility of treatment and cures that result in the changing of a person’s behavior to the point of altering memories and personality.

 

ANTICIPATED RESULTS

  • Establish mental health problems as being a national epidemic.
  • Establish current stage of development regarding science and knowledge.
  • Establish a treatment policy that minimizes loss or adjustments to Constitutional civil rights
  • Establish moral, social, political, and religious influences to limit treatments
  • Establish recommendations for progress measurement to determine success/failure
  • Establish treatment funding options
  • Establish need parameters for funding future scientific research
  • Establish recommendations for policy initiatives
  • Establish recommendations for future policy review, to include review of progress measurement results to date.

 

IN CONCLUSION

This is a national priority, although most of us prefer to kick the can down the road.  But until we start getting serious about this problem we are going to continue to see suicides of all ages and random public attacks.  You can mask the mental health problem by dismissing terrorist lone wolf attacks on jihadi radical political thought rather than mental illness.  You can imagine gun control laws are going to somehow keep mentally sick people in line.  You can make tougher laws to protect people from rape and domestic abuse.  But crimes of violence are not the only reason to address these problems now. Those events are just the tip of the iceberg.  Most Americans with mental health problems suffer in silence and are unable to live a quality of life or contribute in society.  The time is now.

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4 thoughts on “IF I WERE PRESIDENT: Addressing The Mental Health Challenge In America

  1. A thoughtful look at a real epidemic, Doug. When the mental institutions here were closed down en masse after 1980, thousands of disadvantaged psychiatric patients were discharged in a programme dubbed ‘Care in the Community’. This basically meant that they were given their own home, some money, and allocated a social worker who had hundreds of others on his or her list.
    Decades later, and we are still seeing the results of the failure of that ‘experiment’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. We here should learn from you there. And I bet when they released everyone they thought all their problems were solved.

    I actually screwed up and posted this too early.. didn’t even get the audio completed. Ha. Oh well…

  3. I like you plan….maybe you should send a copy to your senator/rep and see what kond of reaction you get. My guess is he will have to consult his lobbyists for the reply….have a good day….chuq

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