Dear President Elect Obama:
You’re getting memo’s, letters, emails, videos, pod casts and photo essays on what you should do in the first hundred days of your administration. I truly doubt even the lowliest of your staffers will get this blog post. Still, as a long time supporter (from your Senate bid onward), I would be remiss in not writing something about presidency.
Your every move is being watched. Every sentence you speak (or write) is being scrutinized by friend and foe alike for hidden meaning. We know you’ve started to get daily threat briefings in addition to planning how you are going to clean up a giant fiscal mess. Add to that the hopes and dreams of millions of people across the world–from Kenya to Kedzie–and I think your agenda is full. Your agenda is exactly what I am concerned about.
With all the talk of health care, and it being a huge part of your agenda, I think you need to make it clear that we need Mental Health Care Parity.
Mental health is a neglected and maligned aspect of the health care system; however, Mental health concerns cost Americans millions of dollars a year. Depression reduces productivity and efficiency in the work place. Bipolar disorder and ADHD are growing concerns among our teens. In addition to these conditions, we have people who suffer from trauma. Victims of torture, abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) and torment (school or the workplace) need an avenue to empowerment. This empowerment comes from mental health professionals–not just the drugs prescribed by psychiatrists–such as psychologists, therapists, counselors and social workers.
We need an effective mental health care system in this country. While we do need evidence based practices and well researched methods of treatment, we also need a way for this methods to be affordable for all Americans.
Ten sessions with a counselor cannot put a dent into major clinical depression. Twenty sessions might be able stabilize someone with bi-polar if you’re lucky. Medication alone should not be used for any mental illness, and these meds are also prohibitively expensive for a number of individuals.
Mr. President-elect, Mental health is a part of health care. Studies continue to show a link between mental health and physical health. The effects of stress, depression, addiction and mania on an person’s physical health have been documented; however, there is still so much we need to learn about mental health.
Mr. President Elect, you campaigned on a message of hope and change. As a person who has used the mental health field to heal after the loss of my parents, and who works with children and youth with severe mental health issue, I have experienced the difficulties that our current system has. I hope you bring this same spirit to this overlooked and poorly understood aspect to our health care system.
edit: Yes, I did send the letter to the President Elect.