Open Heart ~ Open Eyes

Willingness to feel compassion, empathy for other human beings is indeed necessary for me to engage in illuminated living. Choosing to allow vulnerability and the chance of feeling someone else’s discomfort is awkward at best, often painful and socially uncomfortable. The greatest talent of actor/advocate Robin Williams, the lesson I have learned is that humor, valor, boldness and selflessness go a long way to soothe the pains of social discomfort, a great yet under-recognized malady of the first world.  Whether self-medicating to the point of overdose, asphyxiation, anorexia, machine gun, psychic pain is a killer.

Our mental health professionals and service providers can, could and should do so much more to help people heal from the human condition. Everyone, whether we are attuned to it or not, experiences to some degree trauma.  Losses, isolations, rejections, major relocations, national disasters, post-war injuries, divorces, crime victimizations, foreclosures, economic challenges actually buffet our population daily, sometimes chronically. Mental and physical illnesses easily erupt as we have become so conditioned to stuff the feelings surrounding these experiences. We develop aberrant behaviors, destructive habits, somatic expressions of distress in such a way that symptoms seem to pop up when we weren’t looking!

If left unattended, our very brain structure and function can change drastically.  Anyone is vulnerable.  Everyone is at risk. Causes of mental illness and its somatic sister are manifold: From childhood abuse, to domestic violence, maladies of the unseen are hidden in plain sight.  

There is growing, however, a major movement to address these issues. There are genuine people and effective treatments to alleviate or remove the sting and effects of early childhood traumas, intimate partner violence, eating disorders, characterological disorders, effects of trauma for crime victims, our military and enforcement personnel. There is also methods of healing outside our narrow western school of medicine to be explored; although this is the topic of another post. So, why don’t suffering people ask and receive the help, treatment and aftercare they desperately need?

THERE is no excuse for individuals and families having to suffer so in this day and age. As a first world power, a culture of advancement known throughout the world, we should be setting a far better example than we currently do. Instead of making leaps and bounds in areas of raising awareness, tolerance, support, research, funding, access…to a great extent, the US mental health care system IS corrupt, avaricious, political, prone to exploitation, blame-shifting and profiteering. THIS surely should not be.

Attitudes and behaviours of the general public toward the mentally ill affects every area of the mental health care field. Capitalizing, profiteering on social ignorance and pervasive ancient prejudices, patients, victims, and, even perpetrators in many instances, are marginalized, ratcheted down to second-class citizens. In some cases, people with mental disorders are highly vulnerable targets for the criminal. This, too, must be investigated, arrested and prosecuted.

Mainstream America has for generations been socialized to fear individuals with mental health issue. That this continues is barbaric, ignorant and inappropriate for the 21st century. Technology has advanced in so many areas of civilization, we must start to inquire WHY the mental health care field has been left so far behind, abandoned in comparison to wallow in the mire of the dark ages! Clearly, reasons for this are complex, but NOT unknowable. We ask the right questions to get to the bottom of the REAL ‘why’:

  • Is it too profitable for some to KEEP the huge portion of the population locked into thinking mentally ill people are inferior or defective?
  • A danger to society?
  • Not credible?
  • Evil?

Or, are they in truth more valuable in their ‘sick’ condition, deep in symptoms in order to retain them as repeat consumers of mental health services, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, illicit substances, and nicotine?

In middle class communities, a common area of discrimination, criminalization, marginalization and derision (informed, sadly, more often by fear of depreciating property values, as well as chosen ignorance) is against those suffering from addiction. Good, upstanding families suffer from the effects of a loved one’s abuse and addiction to substances of all kinds.  There IS a direct relationship between mental health disorders and substance abuse, and, whether it is politically correct or not, research is pointing to early use extrapolates to later abuse, addiction AND the development of major mental illnesses. 

“Heroin dependent individuals have high rates of co-occuring disorders (COD), which makes them more prone to die from suicide than the general population (Kane-Willis, 2011).”

From 2004 to 2011 Mexican export of heroin alone into the US increased 700%.  How could THAT have happened?  Isn’t addiction now identified as an acute stage of Substance Use Disorder in the DSM-5?  Is it not time to dry up the demand for criminal influx of narcotics

It is time to pull our ostrich heads out of the sand and face reality.  Mental health care systems are in need of the same overhaul, if not with more urgency and effort, as has been poured into cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and every other disease.  The days of ignoring invisible disabilities is long over.

This is a systemic, pandemic, endemic, economic, criminal justice and societal problem. Every one of us feeds into the pathology of the system today. It is time to take a look at each and every one of our OWN areas of participation in this problem, and to make a decision to become a part of solutions.

It is time for a change alright. But this change starts within every individual.  
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Issues of Parity

With all the great support of organizations such as; the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI), mutual aid peer support groups like AA, NA, grass roots organizations such as the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), Families Against Narcotics, Veterans Affairs, Alanon, NarAnon, depression support groups, and the hundreds of others, isn’t it time we unite into one collective voice?

What would we say? Who would we talk to? What exactly do we want?

We would state clearly, itemize precisely areas to be favorably impacted by proactive, prevention-oriented Mental/Behavioral Health Care (M/BHC) Reform.

We can start with opening evidence based discussions with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA:  http://www.nida.gov). Our first order of business should be to claim that M/BHC services are equal to, if not more important than, health care. The mind, emotions, the body, interrelationships and the human Spirit work together to create whole human health.

Furthermore, healthy humans contribute to healthy communities; and, healthy communities form a healthy society. Diversity, balance, safety, cooperation, mutual aid functions to form solidarity and strength all contribute to high productivity, innovation, creativity.

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This is what it takes to build and maintain a healthy, culturally diverse, thriving nation or group of nations:

Consumers of M/BHC services are first class citizens.

Substance addicted patients are NOT substandard people.

In fact, many sufferers of chemical dependencies are victims of corporate pharmaceutical fraud, corruption in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), immoral and atrocious medical professionals.

When properly investigated, those who practice exploitation of the mentally ill or disabled may find themselves embroiled in class action suits against them.

M/BHC Professionals and para-professionals are entitled to equal pay and compensation.  Professional status and financial compensation as returns on the steep educational and licensing investments in both time and money, must also undergo great reform. Intellect and talent must be attracted to the behavioral and mental health care fields to address the outrageous growth ands needs of services in our communities.

It is no longer acceptable to relegate the exponentially increasing needs of mental/behavioral healthcare consumers to the prison system.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA:  http://www.samhsa.gov) is the government agency responsible for delivering support services to US communities. This government body needs to enter into dialog with the next generation of academics, professionals, hands-on caregivers and leaders in the M/BHC industry. While the population’s need for effect care, the industry is under staffed and under funded to meet the need of consumers for whom they are responsible today! How on earth do they expect to prepare for future public mental health needs?  Clearly, a grass-roots call for REFORM is on my agenda.

Yes, like all other forms health care, this mental/behavioral health, too, is an industry. It is foolish, naive, ignorant, prejudiced or arrogant to assume social workers, school counselors, psychotherapists, substance abuse counselors, nurses aides, special education providers, mental health aides, practitioners, direct care workers, group home house managers, center based vocational trainers, residential directors, community based rehabilitation centers, dual-diagnosis behavioral health hospitals, etc. don’t all notice the huge discrepancy in their own pay scales compared to those of equivalent jobs in other fields of health care.

Interestingly, the system’s internal economics has reinforced its own substandard compensation for decades. There is a running self-deception within the caregiving fields. It is nothing more than a thinly veiled stream of excuses to buy into the neglect of their own needs. Hidden in the ranks of many M/BHC workers are severe symptoms of codependency:

“We are not IN IT for the money.”
“We care more for the clients’ needs.”
“We do this because we are good (nice, pious, better than, more responsible, unselfish, liberal, rich, damaged and can’t do better) people.”

I do not hold that mental health care workers have to be greedy, criminally exploiting the disabled. In fact, fear of being falsely-accused of heinous behavior has probably launched this culture self-deprecating, false-piety crap in the first place.

Whether coming from the self-victimizing or self-aggrandizing point of view ~ unabashed pity disguised as pseudo-advocacy is NOT what M/BHC recipients need nor desire.  People who work at careers that pay them fairly, provide healthy incentives by honoring stellar service, clients that are safe, treated with unconditional positive regard, sense improvement in their lives are likely to tell others that they have a great job and will encourage the like-minded to find a career that suits them in the field.  Normal, huh?

Fair and humane, hopeful, respectful, unbiased and understanding people offering treatment with accessible, down-to-earth, thorough and common-sense care ~ these are the kind of care providers most clients need and respond well to.  An industry with this type of culture supports staff, resulting in clients actually growing to feel better, manage their illnesses and get on with their lives.

SAMHSA has so much more to do to fulfill their purpose.

Communities require well-defined strategies, well-suited qualified professionals meet the dire need and to facilitate the directives to addresses them.  Who in their right mind would want to enter a field that does not compensate such valuable personnel in a manner commensurate with the very education/credentialing required to get hired?  Additional irony – because of the vulnerability of the populations such professionals and workers will be serving, their education and credentialing actually either equals or EXCEEDS the standards of other fields of health care!

Legal exposure, regulation, socia scrutiny and media hype is much deeper for a administrators in M/BHC facilities.  Consequences of failure and systemic weakness are much greater, and ultimately the populations they serve suffer in direct result of those failures.

For example, closure of state facilities for the severely disabled has poured otherwise qualified patients into the streets.while the original intent may have been to mainstream such individuals, funding for academic and vocational training of able, bonded personnel had been scantily provided to build a labor force qualified, safe and effective to meet the needs of those turned out patients.

Homelessness, gangs, juvenile crime has grown exponentially in communities throughout the country. Individuals quickly become drugged/self-medicated targets for criminal activity. VA, middle-age and adolescent suicide rates are staggering, and while an outcry is sounding, response is halting, incomplete, and, most troublesome, is still taboo a subject to discuss.

Funding is available; but knowing how to access it is hazy.  Reform must make it a priority to raise awareness and impact social consciousness to make it appropriate, acceptable and commonplace to obtain care.  North America has a ridiculously long way to go in mainstreaming the mental/emotional health agreements as taking one’s vitals.

Infusing resources calls knowing what to do and how to do it. Reform calls reclaiming and redefining each area of M/BH for continued and innovative research, education and development.

Jobs in medical and rehabilitation sectors of the field must be broken down into clearly focused disciplines and ranked for utilization at every level of intervention and influence.

Ancillary fields, such as; academia, public education, fine arts & leisure, families & children intervention and supports, legal and judicial reform with regard to treatment of these populations.* A special look at the increase of chemical dependency leading to death among the middle-aging and geriatric, adolescent and veteran suicide rates:  Beginning with legislation, consumer safety, insurance, agricultural practices and nutrition, public health assessments, recording, reporting and dissemination of information in these specific areas is imperative.

Standardizing protocols for prevention, intervention and education at the local-state-federal levels to respond timely and appropriately to changes in public mental/behavioural health by neighborhood or community. What is meant by this is initiating proactive risk assessments to identify increased alcohol or substance use disorders in correlation to drug trafficking activity BEFORE a community is in crisis.

Fair practices in guardianship,  probate, vocational and housing, transportation require reevaluation with respect to serving and protecting vulnerable populations.

We are to be improving, expanding and refining c

Civil rights language when communicating public information, social awareness concepts and efforts at inclusion needs to improve in clarity, expand to more audiences, be more refined, call citizens to action.  Greater emphasis needs to be placed on understanding the challenges M/BH clients endure. Stronger consequences need to be in place and enforced to prevent bullying and exploitation of those with invisible disabilities in all walks of life and at all age levels.

Standards within schools must be raised, and districts must be equipped with faculty inservices, protocols, prevention curriculum, community based programs in schools and after school.  Wealth and education is not a dividing line for which communities have such programming.

High income and urbane, highly cultured communities suffer the same distress from mental health disorders as underprivileged communities.  This is clearly NOT a class problem; it is a public health problem.

Availability of and standards for systems that support all families  & youth, the aging, need an entire restructuring.  Keen awareness and response with effective psychological therapeutic services must be equally available at every point of entry into health care as CPR or administering AED aid.

Similarly, every stage of after care, whether it be with a peer support specialist, recovery coach, natural supports, each m/bh patient is entitled to hope for the development of innovative, alternative or wrap around care modalities accessible to him or her.  Technological modifications in products, treatments, practices, are equally if not more important than the our equivalent in other fields of medicine.

Parity in social, civil and human rights for consumers of M/BHC is currently far below par.  Legislation to correct this is mandatory. Violations, such as denying services to M/BHC patients is both immoral and reform must be enacted.

Example:
An adolescent in need of inpatient emergency MHC services for opioid addiction must not be denied a hospital bed because “…he’s just a drug addict; what did you expect?”  Yet, a juvenile incarcerated for DUI has access to that same bed.

So, who’s in*? 

Interested in raising your voice for Mental/Behavioral Health Care Reform?

*Contact me, let me know the best way to reach you to take action.
What do you think needs to be done?  What do you think needs to be done FIRST?

Vocabulary Word

Thanks to CBT professor Dr. Sheabra Simpson, I learned a new vocabulary word, but this one has only tangentially to do with the class’ subject of cognitive behavior therapy:

N E T I Q U E T T E

I have nothing original to offer on this, but the following link is spot on!

http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html

In my gallivanting over social networks lately, however, I have run across a few rule-breakers and social oafs.  Thinking of them promptly while reading the rules I thought to spread a Truth, if not a little common decency and manners my mother(s) taught me.

More to be shared after midterms are done…

Namaste

Blind Hatred Harms All of Us

Human beings are flawed, true. The difference between us is how we value life. That is the only difference. Some choose to improve, some do not. Either way, choosing is a God-given right. What we DO with that right defines us.

We Are For Israel

We woke up this morning to the news that Jews had killed Muhamad Abu Khdeir and had failed to kidnap another boy a day earlier. These Jews do not represent Israel. They do not represent Jews. They do not represent the Orthodox community or the Sephardi Orthodox Community. They do not represent even their own families. They represent themselves and they are murderers of an innocent young man.

We are saddened, angered, and sickened by their actions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking about the deaths of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, said that:

I would like to send my condolences to the Abu Khudair family. I pledge that the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, will face the full weight of the law. I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the…

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168 Juveniles Recovered in Nationwide Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking

(…to the tune of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”)

Where have all the Missing & Exploited Children gone?

Long time pa-as-sing…

Where have all the C-SEC gone?

Long time agoooo…

Where have all the Missing & Exploited Children gone?

Gone to PIMPS and SEX TRA’FFICK ERS Ev’ry One…  

 

Well, Great News:  http://goo.gl/prqXk2

FBI Report (see the link)

…as of today 281 perpetrators have been collared and 168 CSEC (commercially sexually exploited children) have been rescued from their captors/torturers.   The coordinated work of Operation Cross Country VIII deserves to be applauded and every American of good will is encouraged to show gratitude and appreciation for every worker that made the sting a success.

Now, lets think a moment as to how these childhood victims are going to be restored.

The type and extent of crimes against these tender victims cannot be measured, meeted against them for greed.  And, the atrocities committed against them are akin to those of the NAZI concentration camps of WWII.

Each child has been stripped of identity, personhood, Self-ness.

Each one has been robbed, decimated, defiled and annihilated in every way imaginable:  physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially, intellectually…

For it is beyond imagination of regular persons to fathom.  The work of healing and restoration is that only the Lord God Almighty can accomplish effectively.

Prayer:

Bless each child, Gentle Sovereign Lord, with the merciful gift of Your Touch.  We pray for every manner of healing, in depth and scope from abuse only You are able to know extent and consequence in its fullness.  Raise Your Standard of justice for atrocities committed against every single soul and body and make the restitution You See appropriate, Dear  Creator.  We agree to participate in the restoration of each child by Your Wisdom, Will and Power.  Hear our prayer, in Ha Shem Y’shua.  Omayn.

Messianic Cross by El Johnson

This is my personal design symbolizing my personal faith in Y’Shua ha Moschiah

 

Better, stronger, tougher: Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly at TED 2014

Better, stronger, tougher: Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly at TED 2014

Thinking about Gabby Giffords this evening. She’s a walk on water kind of heroine Americans could take a good hard look at, and look up to about now. And Mark Kelly, well, I’m speechless and infinitely grateful for his lead by example.
Let’s say, the tragedies they endured, directly followed by their commitment to public service have placed an itch in my mind.
The causes of concern; each and every contributing element that placed Congressperson Giffords so close to death in a public forum directly at the hands of a person with not a few serious mental disorders, in possession of a lethal weapon is fraught with so many hot political topics it boggles the mind.
No sound byte here.
Got to take this one apart slowly, watching carefully each thread and how it is attached to its adjacent threads, and how those are connected to yet other threads, tethered to a round of agendas, each with a trigger-happy legislator hanging on the other end draped on one side of the fence or the other, ultimately tied in a noose over which indecision moves into place of power and intellectually honest decisions cannot be made. Instead fences, that are drawing up bills fattened with pork bellies…well the setup makes for a platform not unlike a Gordion Knot.
To say “it’s complicated” doesn’t quite compute. Such an interconnected blending of competing, mutually exclusive issues loaded with direct consequences, some of which have proven pathetic failures.
Moral, societal, political, legal, administrative, enforcement, medical, civil rights and their sub-sets of issues have come to bear on what concerns me, and what concerns the Giffords/Kelly voice.
For once, let’s refuse to merely cut the knot, but take some time to find the roots of the matters. Yeah, they’re each connected but there are some fusions that might help us get a template we can work with.
I like to start with consciousness raising and the rights of each and every individual involved. With that we may find a treatment plan for each contribution to the Knot of the Big Picture.

TED Blog

(L-R) Pat Mitchell interviews Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Photo: James Duncan Davidson (L-R) Pat Mitchell interviews Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In January 2011, US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in an attack on her entourage at a constituent meeting near Tucson. Six people died and thirteen others were injured. She survived, and her recovery has been a remarkable story. At TED2014 she took the stage with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, for a Q&A with the head of the Paley Center for Media, Pat Mitchell. Giffords suffered from aphasia as part of her injury, and speaking is still difficult, so her answers were short, and much of the speaking was done by Kelly. This is an edited set of highlights from that Q&A.

Pat Mitchell: Has your recovery been an effort to create a new Gabby Giffords or reclaim the old?

Gabby Giffords: A new one, better, stronger, tougher.

What’s the hardest…

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Keeping it Simple for Mom’s Serenity

Celebrating today the Eternal Mother who dwells inside each and every one of us women! Whether we’ve had children, or not, whether our moms are still with us,

or gone in some other way, or not,
we cherish that Universal Mother within.

She is the Feminine Face of G-d, Emmanuelle, if you please: Ever-present, omniscient, omnipotent. Holy and joyful, energetic and peaceful, aware and kind ~

Nurturer
Nourisher
Protector
Accountant
Teacher
Guide
Fashionista
Playmate
School project cohort
Cooker of yummy stuff
Unconditional lover…

She is Imma, Mommy God within US! Embrace Her today. Tell Her you appreciate Her for we would NOT be where we are today without Her! Happy Mothers Day!

Regarding the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, I am not sure I agree with her convictions 100% but I am very grateful for her intention to maintain the day as one of simple, loving pleasures.  This NatGeo article is pretty awesome ~ as the history is what we always need to learn, and relearn.  Take what you like and leave the rest of Anna’s Contention, because her initial desire was so pure and genuine.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140508-mothers-day-nation-gifts-facts-culture-moms/