DISCLAIMER: Political views shared. I accept RESPECTFUL rebuttals, but do not accept judgement. I will delete any responses that are not respectful.
Please also note that although I personally did not vote for Obama, nor do I necessarily agree with his policies or proposals, he's still our president. I still respect that he is. Not agreeing with a person does not mean that I don't hold respect for that person, whether it is our president or any other person in my life.
Now onto my soap box I go...
The recent gun control policy outlined by our president included many line items that referenced mental health. Having considered going into the profession recently as well as having used the system, I have concerns.
Congressional item: Providing financing to expand mental health programs for young people.
Yes, I agree. This is so very important. However, not all the violence that has happened over the years have involved young people. And what defines young? Why are we focusing on providing financing for mental health for only young people? There are more people in our older generations who need mental health services than young people.
What I DO agree with in this statement is that if we can diagnose and treat mental health problems at a young age, we can recognize problems, curb the cost of emergency medical mental health care and unnecessary drug use.
Let's make mental health care AFFORDABLE and AVAILABLE!! What I noticed when I was looking for a therapist was that I had a very short list of mental health care providers to choose from that would bill my insurance. If I didn't have the money to pay out of pocket, I wouldn't be able to seek the therapy that I felt I needed. And even then, I still had to pay $20 per visit. Even that $20 is enough to deter a good portion of our population. Not to mention when I went to see the psychiatrist, I paid $300 out of pocket and then had to submit the paper work to my insurance company on my own and wait 2-4 weeks (still haven't received it and I sent it the end of December) for a $250 reimbursement. I had the money to do that. Not everyone does. What about those who don't? How are THEY going to get the care they need? I desperately wish that our government could see the holes in our health care system. And unfortunately, I don't believe Obamacare is the answer. That isn't going to make one BIT of difference of therapists aren't accepting insurance.
Executive Order (and P.S. THIS IS A PROBLEM!!! There are certain things that should be off limits to Executive Order and this, to me, is one of them.): Addressing unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent
states from making information available to the background check system.
So you're going to take away my right to privacy? What part of HIPPA is off limits now? How is anyone going to feel comfortable being OPEN AND HONEST with his/her doctor if the government can access your personal health information? I can tell you, I will ban going to my doctor if I know that it will be available ANY TIME a background check is required. I agree with background checks being required for EVERY gun sale. This is not what I disagree with. Actually, I think that's a VERY good piece of legislation. Why is that a Congressional item not an Executive Order? BUT if you can see my MEDICAL information on my BACKGROUND check...now THAT I have a problem with. Who is ever going to go see their doctor if they're not dying? All that preventative legislation you just did goes out the window when you allow the government to access personal health information when they run a background check. Does this mean that for every FOSTER parent, you can view their medical history? I know I had to have my doctor fill out a form of medical history for our adoption, but that was not invasive. How invasive is this going? I think that you're really violating personal rights with this one, Mr. President.
Another Executive Order: Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
Um? What? Now I have to tell my doctor if I own a gun? Alarm bells here, people, I CAN LIE! I don't have to allow my doctor into my house to check. I don't have to allow ANYONE into my house without a warrant. So who is going to know whether I'm telling the truth or not? I'm pretty sure this is kind of ridiculous not only because I can LIE but also because again, WHOSE BUSINESS IS IT?! Why should my DOCTOR of all people know if I own a gun or not? That's then going to be reported to the federal government because see above, HIPPA doesn't protect my rights anymore.
Executive Order: Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal
law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement
But at the same time, then who is going to say anything to their doctor when it's already out there that he/she is obligated to report it? People are just going to keep to themselves which means yet another hole in our mental health care. No care for people that don't admit they have a problem....
Executive Order: Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
Okay, so this is good. But what about the rest of us who WORK to pay for our health insurance? Who aren't ELIGIBLE for Medicaid? What is forcing THEM to cover more mental health care? What is going to help ME, the hardworking American? Let's just make that divide between the upper and lower classes bigger...and let the middle class suffer even more. That seems like a logical plan... And as I stated above...what good is this legislation if you're not going to turn around and REQUIRE or give providers an incentive to accept insurance?
Executive Order: Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
This whole ordeal is a pain to administer (take it from someone who helped implement these changes on a self-insured plan when it was enacted in 2008), but it makes sense. I agree with it. BUT why are we not focusing on the fact that this is only as good as there are number of providers who ACCEPT insurance in the first place??
Executive Order: Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius,
the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the
secretary of education.
Ah, there we go. But a dialogue isn't enough!! We need to really focus on what mental health care is available and WHY people aren't using it.
So if you hadn't noticed, here's my stance: GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE! It is my second amendment right to own and carry a gun if I so choose.
Let me go into a little more detail of why this is important for me to say....
1) If we can't provide affordable and available mental health care, we are not solving the problem of what is really going on. The person behind the gun is the one who is pulling the trigger. He/she very obviously has a mental disorder. As a sane person, I would not hold a gun to any person's head to kill without a direct threat to my own life with another gun pointed at me. I'm a sane person. Albeit I have sought mental health care in the past year. That does NOT make me a person who can't think logically about owning a gun and being a responsible gun owner. What we need to do is let people know that mental health care is NOT taboo. It is OKAY if you need help. We are a nation of independent people. Especially as a woman, I was always taught to be independent. I am. But that doesn't mean that I don't recognize when I need help and seek it. This should be okay! I should not be judged for that! The other side of this issue is denial that there is a problem. And this is a case where our race fails. In many instances we are afraid of offending people and therefore don't speak up when we think that using a mental health care service could benefit him/her. Why is it not okay? Why are we embarrassed to need help?! Let's look at THAT. Let's solve THAT problem. Then and ONLY then will we solve the problem. I think my hubby said it best, when problems with drunk driving started to arise, we didn't ban cars, we sought to help people understand the impact of their decisions. Why should this issue with guns be any different?
2) Ignorance is a problem. I find that the majority of people who support strict gun control are not comfortable with guns. This is either because they know someone affected by a death because of a gun or because they have never been around one or taught how to handle one. If you know how to safely handle and shoot a gun, you won't be AS uncomfortable around them. If you grew up around them, you won't be as uncomfortable around them. I can tell you, my children will RESPECT a gun and know what it is. They will be taught the proper safety around guns and understand that a gun is NOT a toy. They will learn what unsafe practices are and mentally unstable humans do with guns. They will know and respect them. Just because you or someone you know is not comfortable around them doesn't mean that you should restrict people who are from owning them. Let's offer education. Let's teach children what respecting weapons means. What they are ACTUALLY for and when is the appropriate time to use them. We teach fire safety, why not gun safety? Fires and small explosives (think fireworks) can kill people just as easily as a gun. I'm not talking gun safety as in handing a kid a gun at school and showing him/her proper techniques. I'm talking, telling them about guns. About what they can do (obviously age appropriate!). Teaching them about the history of our country and the IMPORTANCE that weapons played in making this nation a free nation. Teaching them that they are not toys. Teaching them that bad people do bad things with guns. Good people with guns like the police officers and military that protect them only use guns for good to protect our communities and our country. Let's teach them to respect and be comfortable with people who own and use guns. Let's teach our children to talk to their parents about whether their guns have gun locks or are locked up separately from ammunition. We teach our kids to make sure their parents have batteries in the smoke detectors, why not do the same for guns? Why is owning a gun so taboo in this society??? Guns and mental health care are two very taboo subjects that are so interrelated it's not even funny.
And let me put one more thing out there...I was highly affected by Sandy Hook. It broke my heart to know what those parents and children were experiencing. I know that our president is being highly criticized for his gun control policies. However, I do think that Sandy Hook was the straw that broke the camels back. I do believe that if the president had not come forward with SOMETHING, he would be just as criticized as he is for saying what he's said. BUT as a free nation that does not mean I have to agree. And you don't have to agree with me. My blog, my opinions. Your life, your opinions.
What I do want to endorse is that you write a letter to your legislators. Protect our personal health information. Make mental health affordable and available. Help our friends and family that may need help by encouraging them to get it. Help them find out where to go and how to pay for it. No amount of money or taboo should stop someone from getting necessary help.
Let's be supportive and not judge people who need help, medications or otherwise, for mental health. Let's be a nation that supports and respects that mental health is a priority. It won't only help with gun control, but substance abuse and drunk drivers, and many other things...let's be supporters of a change that benefits so many areas of our nation and not just what is prevalent in this day and time. Supporting a mental health legislation will help our nation become stronger and help spend less money in so many other areas in the long run.
(Long post, I know...so much to say........)