1 in 5 people in the United States (19%) have some form of mental illness. Think about that. If you go out with a group of 10 people (5 couples going out to dinner on a Saturday night), chances are good that 2 of the people sitting around your table are battling some sort of mental illness. The chances are even greater that they are battling in silence, ashamed to admit it to themselves (if they have even recognized the issue), but probably even more ashamed to admit it publicly to the group.
For the better part of 3 days a few weeks ago, I was afforded the opportunity to attend the National Council for Behavioral Health’s “NatCon18” where the theme was Be Heard. We listened as the former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stated that loneliness is a larger precursor for death than smoking, diabetes and obesity. New York Times best-selling author Brené Brown discussed how “true belonging doesn’t require us to CHANGE who we are; it requires us to BE who we are” from her book Braving the Wilderness. Unfortunately for some, this is an out-of-reach concept. Author Pete Earley discussed his son losing a battle against his struggles with bipolar disorder. Six hospitalizations, three incarcerations, two tasers, one hog-tie due to his violent outbursts. Only then were they able to begin to heal, because as Pete said “I lied and said he had tried to kill me because that’s the only way he could get the mental health care he so desperately needed.”
Along the way, conversations were had regarding payment models (is fee-for-service modeling on it’s way out in lieu of a capitated value based model?). We heard about proposed changes to the national Medicaid system, and what that means for the constituents of each state. The state of Ohio is the first state to implement Managed Medicaid beginning July 1, but the service providers have a year window to “work out the kinks” in their revenue systems, to lessen the effect of denied claims.
Those conversations required that second cup of coffee, for sure! But the meaning behind those sessions were never far from the minds of those attending. From the front line direct-care service workers to the administrative support staff; from the psychiatric nurse practitioner to the billing department – all are integral pieces of the complex puzzle that we utilize to assist those that we help with the services that are so desperately needed.
Unfortunately, many of those we serve are unable to Be Heard. We are their voices! We are their advocates! Until you can go to dinner with those 5 couples and not have 2 people suffering in silence, we are needed.