The fight to live in the community: I wanted to share with you about another part to the Bazelon article and I will probably make a blog series for everyone to hopefully keep up with. As I explained a week or so ago, one of the main reasons persons do not seek mental healthcare is the fear of admitting a mental health problem and then being carted off to a mental institution and forgotten about.
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is one of the well-respected organizations that fought for persons to live in the community. NAMI is an advocacy organization that also fought for persons with a mental health condition to live in the community as a constitutional right to do so with being discriminated against.
When I first began advocating for persons with a mental health diagnosis, I learned that a landmark case in New York opened the door for institutions to close and persons with mental illness to be able to live in communities. There are a couple of things that stigma and stereotype hasvbeen used to create certain myths: (1) Persons with mental illnesses are dangerous and cannot live in the community like a normal person and (2) persons with a mental illness cannot vote!
For example, untreated mental illnesses can be caused by untreated Depression which can lead to suicide. Untreated mental illnesses can cause a person to not be able to function with daily life skills. TREATED mental illnesses help persons with a mental illness live a normal, quality life meaning he/she can function with daily life skills.
When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I lost all motor skills. After beginning a medicine regime, I had to re-learn those motor skills (reading, writing, bathing, cooking, yelling at my kids who were taking clear advantage of me on the sofa all day eating Oreo cookies!). Anyhow- the stronger I became, the more I learned how society will not want you to become well. You see all sort of negative labels blocking you from getting back in society successfully even within the family. As with all experiences we have, we learn and grow from them and we should want to help others coming behind us. This is progression. We should never settle for regression. I never wanted to go out in the community and start shooting at persons and in my mind, I wanted family and friends to know that persons with mental illnesses have normal thoughts, too. Thoughts of continuing in life with purpose. Wanting to be respected. wanting be considered a valuable member in society.
When Healthcare Reform came along, it was absolutely necessary for me to get involved for many reasons. I often believed it was because God heard my pleas in that Vanilla Room and favored me alone. God loves us all, we know. Now, the other thing I discovered about mental illnesses is that … how should we say, the opposition does not mean for us to know we are still valuable. This is saying in other words that persons with a mental illness also have a right to vote! This is discussed in the Bazelon newsletter which is a part of the Affordable Care Act! Once, I actually blogged about persons in nursing homes even having the right to vote, too. I had read an article stating that persons in nursing homes read the newspapers and watch the news ALL day long. They have opinions that make them worthy to cast his/her vote on and the same thing for persons in the community at-large.
As family and friends of persons with a mental illness, we need to engage him/her about politics and see what we learn. We need to listen to his/her dreams and goals and see what we learn. This is how we begin to defeat stigma and stereotypes in the family. When it starts in the family it spreads into the community. This will lead to increased voting opportunities!
We have to read information from organizations who work hard to help us and our families, ministries, and congregations, too. This is because of the positive affect it will have in improving our communities and saving lives before there is a tragedy and everybody wonders, how did this happen?
So, persons with a mental illness can live in the community
have a right to vote. I want to encourage everyone to not talk around, above, or under persons who have a mental illness. Break that mindset that they have nothing worthwhile to contribute. That is a goal of labeling persons. Instead, engage them in conversation and you will discover they have a passion waiting to be released that is valuable to building a stronger family, community, nation. This increases esteem, self-determination, responsibility, hopes and reinforces dreams. The youth and young adults in your family, circle, etc. will see positive changes and participate, too. This teaches respect for all persons which is a moral issue. Youth will take this into adulthood!!
Of course, having access to healthcare is a real beginning to mental wellness in many ways. A person may feel more confident and trusting of a healthcare professional without judgment over time. That could very well lead to accepting mental healthcare to complete the puzzle. As the days wind down for the deadline to buy healthcare, commit to doing just that by visiting Healthcare.gov. If a person is eligible for Medicaid, there is no deadline because enrollment is open ALL year, but encourage enrolling in it to gain access to healthcare and mental healthcare. Set a family goal with encouragement, support, and love for the community you want to live in by ending stigma, stereotypes, and myths in the family. GET Covered!
Lastly, now, what do you think of the Bazelon article and H.R. 3717? This is an ACTION ALERT which means to do something so please spread the word in your circle and tweet “NO!” to U.S. Representative T. Murphy, too!!!!! If he were to have it his way, people will be institutionalized and votes will be taken out of the community. Persons will be unfairly and unjustly “put away….!” Putting labels on people indicating they are valueless and should be hidden and their voice (vote) silenced is