Clearing The Air About Mental Illness

PAPAS: Clearing the air about mental health

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

Thu Apr 03, 2008, 02:54 PM EDT

Framingham –

We hear a lot about clean air and clearing the air, what does that mean?

Is the cure sometimes worse than the original problem? Is ignorance really bliss? What about informed consent?

The concept of clean air makes sense in that our lungs should have the purest form of fresh clean air in order for our bodies to perform at a maximum efficiency.

The problem comes when so many for so long have polluted the air that the cost to correct their ways of doing business becomes the stumbling block. The dollars it takes to replace the old machinery is huge, but if not spent, at some point there may not be anyway to clean the air.

Clearing the air is another issue. There are people who would prefer to cast doubt and confuse the issue rather than address the issue on its merits.

An honest difference of opinion, agreeing to disagree is sometimes the healthier position. Whatever happened to trying to persuade people to adopt a position?

Part of persuading is educating people. A good old fashion debate on the issues is a great place to start. Oftentimes we did not know that we did not know.

Oftentimes the stigma of a mental illness was perpetuated by insurance providers by covering broken bones, but not broken or miss-communication between brain cells.

Essentially a mental illness is the broken or miss-communication between brain cells. Sometimes they require higher premiums or co-pays for a mental illness. Today, as a result of many people and organizations, such as NAMI, educating and lobbying Congress and the state legislators, we are closer than ever before to having all medical conditions covered at the same rates.

Insurance providers often refuse to cover more than 20 visits a year to a psychotherapist. A patient may be required to pay 20 percent of the cost for a visiting cancer specialist, but 40 percent or more for a mental health specialist.

A cancer patient costs the insurance provider more than the mental health patient. The recovery rate for the mental health patient is greater. It has also been shown that dealing with mental issues on an outpatient basis is more successful and more cost effective than dealing with mental health issues on an inpatient basis.

How to pay for all this is open for debate, but certainly more people would like to have coverage they can afford.

This is where each voter should listen to the candidates and make up their own minds as to who might have the better idea. Step right up and ask the candidates. The voters decide who they will hire to represent them.

Another issue that was addressed is clean air.

Hospitalized mental health patients, in many cases, were not permitted fresh air.

How many people today prefer to re-breath the same stale air over and over again?

Our bodies require clean fresh air to be healthy. This issue took years to address in the legislature, but thankfully today hospitalized mental health patients have the right to fresh air.

Informed consent is nothing more than knowing what is going into your body. Food labels list the ingredients so we can determine if we want those chemicals flowing around in our bodies. Medications are not so easy to understand as each have side effects.

We need to determine if we have an interest in experiencing those side effects. Our pharmacist can help us determine how the prescribed medication interacts with other prescribed medications we might be taking. This why informed consent is so important!

Sometimes people just give up and accept whatever comes by. Sometimes things become overwhelming.

I suggest you stay in the game and ask questions. When you come upon the mountain in front of you don���t try to pick it up or move it all at once, start with the pebbles���

Like so many grassroots organizations NAMI is looking to partner with people to educate and help as many people as possible. There are two upcoming events in which you can participate: Lobby Day April 16 where we visit the state legislators; and our annual WALK May 31. You may call or visit our Web site for more information.

The Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ) and current President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, a new support group for consumers in Marlboro, and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May and


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