Time to Bring Mental Health to the Table

The news satiated a few weeks back with a scenes and scenarios, occupying time, space and talk-time covering the stories of murderers, kidnappers, snipers and mass killings.

I kept hearing about innocent lives being taken much too soon and about the gun control reform. This conversation has been yakked ad nauseam to no avail.

As I walked through my living room, my mother fused to the news of the special needs kidnapped boy, his bus driver shot dead before his five-year old eyes immediately prior to being apprehended by his perpetrator.

The news commentator asked a question. His question stunned me. His question traipsed around my thoughts for almost two weeks. His question inspired this post.

I’m paraphrasing here but he asked; why did the kidnapper shoot the bus driver? I don’t understand what his motive was for killing the bus driver?

Granted, I am a trained social worker and even though I am currently under the Social Security Disability system, the question boggled my mind.

The answer is ‘the kidnapper is mentally unstable.’

Herein lays the greater question. Why are mental health services still lacking? After decades of consistent mass murder sprees, why do the mentally imbalanced remain underserved?

And although a handful of states and insurance companies have valiantly elevated mental health services and benefits, these efforts are obviously ineffectual.

The mental health facilities doors closed for good, shut down and locked. Bare boned, long waiting lists, no room at the mental health in-patient units. Mentally ill people seeking out help through voluntary admission, turned away without rhyme or reason.   ‘Try again at a later date.’  What will an emotionally distraught individual do between asking for help and ‘a later date?’

Mental health services need closer attention with a far-reaching vision toward a less violent future. Refusing mental health patients appropriate care serves no one; not the patient, not their families, not the citizenship–nobody.

There is no singular or simple solution to mass violence. Like any gray-zone issue. However, refusing to deal with the emotionally and socially disturbed medically, socially, culturally and politically, simply perpetuates violence on any scale.

The news reporter’s question spoke eons, mental health issues are far from the minds and hearts of media–until a catastrophic event. The headlines written for shock and entertainment value, fuel fear, shame and misconceptions underlying the mental health community.  Also known as stigma.

Stigma, definition, Oxford Dictionary; a mark or sign of disgrace.

For anyone to come to terms with a flaw or bell-curved deficiency is difficult. I failed to follow through with my first Social Security Disability application due to the stigma glued to the label.

(More on ripping labels into industrial shredders in a future post)

The families share the ‘stigma’ price with little to no support; left in the 21st Century Dark Age.

Mental Health awareness and education downgraded to the point wherein a news reporter asks a naive question.

Instead of spinning these stories into a black hole, perhaps the populace deserves professional tutorial(s) concerning mental health.

Instead of pushing the stories into the near past and focusing on newer, more entertaining epics, we could stick to a theme for the intent and purpose of engaging in real problem-solving, finding viable solutions to provide care for mental health patients and in turn provide care for world citizens.

Instead of the stories and those whose lives are forever changed by violence, why not unearth these buried stories for grounding possible solutions and leave the spin behind.

For those in need of information for themselves or for someone else, your local telephone book does provide US Government/Federal contacts and State and Government Offices. Check your local listings. I have included some US Government Agencies of interest regarding this blog post.


National Suicide Prevention                   1-800-273-TALK/8255

National Suicide Prevention TTY          1-800-799-4889

Alcohol & Drug Treatment Referral     1-800-662-HELP or 1-800-729-6686

Health Care Information                        800-358-9295

Health Care Information TTY               800-377-4950

Health & Human Services                      877-696-6775 or  http://www.hhs.gov

Health & Human Services                      http://www.healthfinder.gov

Mental Health                                          800-789-2647 — General Information

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration    877-SAM-HSA7

Again, check your local listings for State and Community Services Directory including non-profits and community parishes.

What are your thoughts?

***Please, when sharing your thought, comments or ideas, remain on topic and refrain from any abuses of language or negative slurs toward others.

Thank you for visiting Living Life to the Best of Your Disability; All Inclusive, All the Time, No Disability Left Behind

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynn
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 01:05:29

    I’m with you Vikki. There is still too much stigma attached to having any mental illness, and too little public understanding about the various mental illnesses. Even with health insurance some are turned away unless they are considered “suicidal” and then there is a whole different stigma associated with that.


    • Victoria Kaloss
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 02:36:27

      Exactly, Lynn. The stigma pool runs deep, whether one is considered a harm to him/herself and/or others or not.
      Bringing stigma and related mental health issues into an honest discussion as one of the root causes
      of cultural violence will surely strengthen positive policies and outcomes. Thanks, for commenting—beginning the discussion
      is the first step.


  2. Heidi
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 12:23:26

    Thank you Vikki for coming out into to world again and sharing your voice. Frankly I feel people choose to be ignorant about this subject and many others that are uncomfortable. We generally do not embrace anything out of comfort until it is right in our face personally or publicly. Change begins with each of us, one person at a time.


    • Victoria Kaloss
      Feb 25, 2013 @ 13:38:14

      Thank you and YES! Mental illness, disability, abnormality are an uncomfortable topics.
      This is an important component to bring to the table.
      I’ll let your comment resonate with people..
      Thanks, Heidi for sharing your wisdom.


  3. Laine
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 13:10:33

    So well written,Vikki!!
    The one area in which awareness needs to be hightened is this: the brain is an organ….and like the heart, kidney liver etc….it can dysfunction also. If the liver is bad, no one makes a moral judgement about the person. if your pancreas fails you, no will will ask”who mistreated or misguided that person to make them so sick?”….The stigma lies there…and unfortunately…it lies with many in the very community that is meant to help and heal sick brains.
    I guess awareness is a process…Not that long ago society thought someone was “possessed” if their behavior was “off”.They would be “put away” for years and treated badly….At least now, there is the beginning of a light shining…yet there needs to be so much more!!!
    It seems that people who work in the field, as with so many professionals, get callous to the very vulnerable folks they are drawn to help. It’s our human condition I guess. Certainly there are no quick or magical answers; maybe our Creator gave us this challenge to help us stretch our sense of empathy and determination to help the sick….ALL the sick….
    Yes…blogs like this are surely a step int he enlightened direction!!! Proud of ya,Vikki!!!!!! LoveLaine


    • Victoria Kaloss
      Feb 25, 2013 @ 13:29:49

      Thanks, Laine! You’re so right, not long ago people with mental illness were inhumanely treated as were most people born with disabilities.
      Our culture has improved conditions for mentally ill, yet we can do so much better.
      You’re correct when you say “challenge to help us stretch our sense of empathy and determination to help the sick…ALL the sick” because
      current studies have indicated the special needs population possesses a heightened sense of empathy and tolerence.
      Hopefully with the use of multi-venues, the message will reach the collective mass; All Inclusive, All the Time. No Disability Left Behind
      Thanks, again, Laine–your support nd input is invaluable 🙂


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