Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I worry about most with SMI and our next president

I'm worried.

I'm very worried.

I'm so worried it makes me sick to my stomach sometime.

Why, you ask?

Because serious mental illness is not a joke, but looking at the presidential candidates from the two major parties, they seem to think it is.

What is serious mental illness, if not a joke? It's bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder. Diseases that significantly impact a person's quality of life. They're not words that you toss around so nonchalantly as if they have no real long lasting consequences.

I'm afraid because we've made some progress in the areas of SMI, like with allocating funds for the treatment of it, and helping move persons with SMI out of the jails and into hospitals, but I fear for the backsliding of all this good if we elect in a person who doesn't have the slightest bit of appreciation for what mental is, and is not.

Mental illness has a long history of being taboo, and a death sentence, politically speaking, for any politician. This seems to have led to some kind of cognitive dissonance to the subject. Politicians regularly have smear campaigns against their rivals, calling them 'nuts,', 'crazy', 'deranged'. And then this thinking seems to lend its way into the way they vote as well. Many politicians are confused, and know very little about just how devastating mental illness is, especially without safeguards in place to protect some of our most vulnerable members of society.

How does this language help us have an honest talk about mental illness in general, and SMI specifically? I feel it doesn't.

I happened to google the words 'Donald Trump and mental illness policies', and there was very little on the subject to be found, but there was plenty of wild speculations of his own mental health there. I then googled 'Hillary Clinton and mental health policies', and there was a bit more of meat to her mental health policies, but still a good amount of articles trying to discredit her because of speculations on her mental health.

I feel that people with these ideals are not likely to understand the complex issues that surround SMI, and therefore will not appreciate the power they yield to help or harm the mental illness community by signing off on bills that will undoubtedly come before them over the next 4 years.

Until we have a president who appreciates the severity and nuances of SMI, we will not have the voice we need to be heard, the voice that affects real change. And by watching the candidates we have now, I feel this is not the our time to have that drastic change we so desperately need. 

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