Welcome to the Notes by Khia Mental Health Matters Series. I was originally going to start this series by setting straight some common fallacies in mental health. However, as Oklahoma bears down for the blow of budget cuts to several major mental health and substance abuse agencies in the state I thought this was a more appropriate starting point.
Photo credit: @criene twenty20.com
Oklahoma is getting ready to see millions of dollars be taken away from clients or consumers who are only functioning as well as they are because of the agencies employed to help them (and the grace of God, of course). Not only will the consumers be impacted, but thousands of employees as well.
Let me preface my following statements by saying that I graduated with my Masters in social work from The University of Southern California in May 2016. I have been working in the mental health field since graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Sociology- Human Services in 2012. I say all of this just to say that I am not someone who saw this on the news and felt bad for the people that this would impact but I am someone who studied these impacts and works with people effected by mental illness on a daily basis.
Why not start with some facts about mental health. Mental health is something that effects everyone in a different way. Often when we hear "mental health" we immediately think of mental health issues and barriers but mental health is simply how well your mind is functioning whether that is great or not so well. Mental health agencies were developed for those whose mental health needs more assistance to be higher functioning. Taking care of mental health is something that everyone should be doing and not just after a psychotic break.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most frequently diagnosed disorders. While they seem to be pretty simple and many people believe that they are equated to just sadness and nervousness but they are both a bit more complex than many people see. It is easy to see that a person in a wheelchair needs assistance with everyday tasks but not so easy to see why someone with a mental illness needs assistance managing daily tasks. People say, "it's just a mind thing...get up, get out of bed, and face the day". Yes, it is important for a person with a mental health illness to do their best to live as normally as possible but it is much easier said than done. Let's take cancer for instance. We all know that cancer is bad and that it can be very taxing on the body. However, until you have had cancer you will never know how bad it really is and how much it really takes to continue with life through the pain and sickness and exhaustion.
With a mental health disorder the most simple tasks become much harder than they should be to perform. This is why these mental health agencies are so important. A major part of outpatient services is to provide people with skills to manage their illness so their life can continue as normally as possible.
I saw this video in Facebook and it reminded me that we really need funding for education as well.
I don't even really have time to go into the many things that are wrong with this video starting with a child being placed in handcuffs. The point is that police officers, teachers, principals, other professionals, and community members alike need to be educated on how to handle situations like this, how to identify the signs of a mental health break, and the importance of the actions that accompany and follow these actions. I believe that the more educated our community members were about the truth about mental health the less we would have to deal with issues like this. I get that it is a hard thing to understand if it is not something you deal with everyday but our leaders need to have some compassion. One of these days I hope that our society will see that mental health is just as important as physical health.
I beg of you Oklahoma residents to contact your local legislators about these issues. If you have struggled with managing any mental health disorders be brave and tell your story. Talk about what this will mean for you if these agencies have to close their doors. Professionals talk about what this will mean for your clients. If you have family members that this will impact or family members that have been negatively impacted by not being able to receive the help they needed tell those stories.
Mental Health Matters.