In no particular order today, these are things that make me want to choke someone because there’s no good reason for them:
1.) Check out today’s Doonesbury:
Yes, this is really happening. How do I know?
2.) There was a message on my phone at work when I came back from lunch. It was from a youngish woman with a softly accented voice. The call was for my predecessor who left 4 months ago. The voice sounded a little desperate. She wanted to know how to apply for the jobs the department has posted on the website. I could have just ignored the call. It wasn’t for me. But something made me call her back.
It turns out that she’s a scientist from another department. She got laid off because her grant was not renewed due to the sequester. She told me she was very good in the lab and listed a number of things she could do. I didn’t doubt her. I told her I wasn’t the best person to ask for assistance for a variety of reasons and pointed her to a website she could check out for current positions and the temp agency that hires too. But the more I heard, the sadder I got. She’s a loooong way from home. The job she had was the only one she’d ever known. It occurred to me that her visa status might not allow for her to apply for just any job or unemployment or even to stay in the country. I just hope she has money to get home. I felt so bad about it that I kept her number.
3.) 24 year old Gus Deeds shot himself to death and seriously injured his father Creigh Deeds in Virginia today. Sounds like a typical murder-suicide attempt, right? Not at all. Here’s what really happened:
The day before he stabbed his father at the family’s home, the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) underwent a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.
We’re not talking about no beds available at the hospital where he had his evaluation. We’re talking about no beds available in that part of the state at ANY hospital.
People, that is a sad, tragic, preventable story. The father will recover and I hope that he and incoming governor Terry McAuliffe use their political skills to advocate for greater resources for the mentally ill. They need access to safe places and medical care.
Behavioral health care isn’t even covered by many insurance plans and is almost totally absent from plans on the individual market. That will change next year. But even with that change, beds in safe facilities are hard to come by even on a good day and treatment is much shorter than it should be. What a waste because with good treatment and medication, the mentally ill can lead normal, productive, creative lives.
In this day and age and in this country, there is absolutely no excuse for letting a tragedy like this occur except that we simply do not care enough to give the sick the treatment they deserve because we fail to see mental illness as the manifestation of a physical problem, just like every other illness we treat.
My thoughts are with the Deeds’ family tonight.
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