Should Texas reform mental health system?
POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 5:08pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 3:54pm
Tyler, TX (KETK) — Every day, more than 80 Americans decide to end their life. 70 percent of these people, have a mental illness.
KETK spoke with Valerie Holcome, the Director of Forensic Services at the Tyler Andrew's Center, who said, "Cancer rates we talk about, right now Ebola is a big thing, but the truth is the biggest killer is suicide".
Texas ranks among the lowest in the nation for spending on mental health. The National Alliance of Mental Illness suggests each state provide 50 psychiatric beds for every 100,000 people. In Texas, we only have 12 beds for every 100,000. There are very few private psychiatrists, so we're told those seeking help for their illnesses, may need to wait as long as 6 months.
Doug McSwane said, "1 in 4 people in America suffer from a mental illness. And then when you expand it to the families that are affected by it, you're talking about 50 percent of Tyler". McSwane's son was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in 2003. He shared, "I get a call on Father's Day where he asked me how long I've been in the mafia and when did I put the chip in his head. I thought he was joking. But as the conversation went on I realized, he wasn't joking".
The more they sought help for their son, the more they realized Texas was not where they needed to be. McSwane said, "Because Texas was 50 of 50 states in spending on mental health, and now they're 49th in 50. There just wasn't a lot of facilities available in Texas for us to get the kind of treatment that Patrick needed".
However 9 years into treatment, Patrick, took his own life. McSwane responded, "Whoever says that time heals all wounds, I don't think they had encountered the loss of a child". So now, he is using the scars of his past to help change the future. McSwane said, "Imagine what would happen, if within the community, from the pulpits all the way to the government, the word was out that if you've got a mental illness, if you're a family member dealing with a loved one with a mental illness, it's ok".
If you or are loved one is suffering from a mental illness, there are resources. You can visit: http://www.andrewscenter.com/MH.htm .
Also, on September 20th, Doug McSwane, Kay Warren, and others will speak at a large conference focusing on mental health, "Peace of mind, standing together for mental health".
- Where: Crosswalks, Green Acres Baptist Church
- When: 8:15 a.m.-2 p.m.
- For details: http://peaceofmindtyler.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/namiadvocate-warrens.pdf .