Letter to the Editor: Dr. Whyman pinpoints mental health deficiencies
June 12, 2014
Thank you Dr. Whyman for discussing some of the reasons we are seeing disturbed individuals murdering our communities. We all know we also are in a suicide epidemic. As a pediatrician in the area, I have shared the same concern about both for years, but as my daughter is a senior at UCSB, I realized better it affects all.
I previously wrote about Obamacare and how it is a move toward better coverage, however rocky that road is. One of highly debated, but essential elements, is assuring mental health in that coverage. As Dr. Whyman unfortunately points out, however, politics will prevent government from acting effectively.
I am part of a Tahoe community effort fostered by Tahoe Forest Hospital and the Hospital Foundation (please contribute if you wish) called the Wellness Community. As one preventative measure, we are making an effort to increase mental health availability (along with 4 other preventative care "neighborhoods").
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the embarrassing levels of reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare for mental health issues (ask your politician why). As stated in the article, we as a community may well have to devote enough money to attract and retain mental health workers.
All of us in primary care medicine will attest we are handling too many cases of depression, suicides, mental disturbances, aggression, bullying, and ostracism with not enough help from professionals who are better at these issues.
On the last subject please talk to your kids as these behaviors begin early, and the earlier we help them the better the chance is of positive outcome. Ask about bullying. Watch for cutting and pre-suicide behaviors. Beware the loner and withdrawn child. Be very wary of social media and any excessive joy derived from violent video games.
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Chris Arth, MD