I can’t tell you how many times I have started this post and then deleted it. My backspace key is wearing out. WordPress is sending me emails like: Try the Publish button, you’ll like it! But, every time I do, I wonder what the feedback will be. I wonder if I’m saying it right, or saying too much. I want to get this right because the stigma already exists around it, and I don’t want to add more negativity to the topic of mental health.
Mental health is at epidemic proportions in this world, and the past few weeks of my family’s experience in this field of care is a true testament to why.
“I’ve been on anxiety medication for years,” the medic smiled.
“After five days, the patient will be released with two weeks worth of medication, so they can find a psychiatrist who can continue the treatment,” the in-patient nurse informed.
“The psychiatrist has denied you to the practice because you did not complete the program as prescribed,” the intake therapist stated.
“Anxiety and depression are two sides of the same coin“, the general practitioner said. “It can be treated in the family practice realm. Come back in a month.”
“More than 50% of people who go to the E.R. for heart attack symptoms a
re actually experiencing a panic attack,” the therapist assured.
But, each of those people who end up in the E.R. have different experiences getting help with their condition following the emergency room visit.
The lack of care providers is astounding! And, it only gets worse as you try to get more specific with your search. Does this one take your insurance? Does this one have an office within a two hour travel range? Is this one even accepting new patients, and if they are, do they have any schedule availability within a day or two?
I couldn’t believe how many care providers (psychiatrists and therapists) I called that had at least a 48 hour call-back time then an even longer wait to actually be seen!
You break a bone; you are seen by a doctor immediately. You have a cold or some other physical ailment; you’re scheduled to be seen within a few days.
Your chest tightens. You have unbearable thoughts. You can’t imagine living any longer. We’ll see you in two weeks!
I am not attempting to downplay the care that should and needs to be provided to those with physical ailments. I am simply asking, why isn’t mental health held to the same caliber? Why aren’t those who have dark thoughts and physical symptoms in reaction to their mental state treated with the same expedience? How can a doctor (who is one of a very few in a certain geographical area and health care sector) deny a patient from care?
The stigma that surrounds mental health isn’t there because it is hard to understand how these patients feel. More people than not these days can relate to the list of mental health disorder symptoms. It’s there because the treatment these patients need isn’t. Imagine a world where a patient visited a doctor once and was cured of anxiety, depression, or any other mental ailment. Would there still be a stigma?
Mental health issues are not the problem. Access to care is.