You Be the Mental Health Czar - The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I recall six or seven years ago someone asking me what the biggest issue we needed to address in mental health. I drew a blank. Who do you think I am? I was tempted to reply. God’s assistant? (Assistants always know more than the people they work for.)


    Here’s what we’re dealing with: We need more money for treatment and for access to treatment. But for what? So bad doctors can overprescribe meds that often make us feel worse? (Okay, you caught me in one of my cynical moments.)


    How about more money for research? I’m a huge fan of exponentially expanding research. But the pay-off is years and decades away. We’re suffering now.

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    How about a massive ending stigma campaign? Nothing like a stigma story to get everyone hot under the collar. Truly, this is something we can all rally around. Then what? (Sorry, I’m all out of my anti-cynicism meds.)


    Okay - massive increases in housing, social services, vocational training. Yes, yes, and yes. Major catch: Someone else’s pet project always has higher priority.


    Seems hopeless, doesn’t it? We have antidepressants by the bucketload, but we haven’t made a dent in depression or suicides. We have new talking therapies, but more people are stressed and insecure than ever before. We spend tons of public money, but it only seems to be used to keep bureaucrats busy and make drug and insurance companies rich.


    Then I recall the words of George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'"


    Okay, why not? Question: If you were in charge, with unlimited funds at your disposal to fight mental illness right now, what would you do? What would be your priorities? 


    Be as cynical as you like. Be as optimistic as you like. Comments below ...

Published On: April 07, 2013