Just because it shows less to strangers doesn't mean it's not there. While Obama's executive order came down, I sat in a hospital emergency room waiting for a bed in the psych unit. I had just explained to about five different doctors the Bad Thoughts that led me to the hospital.
No, I don't have a representative payee. For all intents and purposes, I appear independent. Does this mean I should not care? For my friends who have representative payees, and for the continued stigma against having mental health needs, I do care.
My friend consoled me as I broke down on the phone before going to the hospital, and told me it was brave to get this kind of help with all the stigma that surrounds it. While my friend has not reached this level of mental health crisis before, they know all too well the dialogue surrounding mental health. Uncontrollable thoughts raced through my head as I waited on the chair, mixed with frustration at my brain being out of whack again. The thoughts that drove me there were far more intense than usual.
I missed most of the initial window in which to respond to Obama's executive order because I had no internet access. I relied on phone conversations with friends, individual therapy sessions, playing cards with fellow patients, mealtimes, naps, and books to pass the time.
The history of people with mental health needs is one of rights denied. Institutions for us are still a fairly recent history, and a failed project. Do we have the supports we need in the community yet? Absolutely not. About our rights: should we be able to own guns?
Obama's executive order affects not just those with mental health needs, but anyone receiving SSA with a representative payee who controls their money. Obama's executive order is trying a one size fits all policy instead of individually tailoring background checks to search for patterns in past behavior of wanting to hurt people (I cannot propose an adequate policy for those with suicidal ideation in their history, such as mine, even though I do not own a gun and do not want to because I do not need one. I grapple with this.) The answer to should we own guns? depends specifically on the person. People with mental health needs are people, after all.
I managed to convince one of the psychiatrists at the hospital that the Murphy Bill needed significant reform or outright rejection. I have talked about the Murphy Bill extensively in the past (here's an article on it.) I have always worried about it. I am a person who needs psychiatric care to thrive. I have accepted this about myself long ago. I want my treatment to be as private as I choose. Already some big companies are slipping up with HIPAA violations. If enough action is not taken, soon it will become a moot point.
When you have mental health needs, some people are determined that you should make a full recovery for the sake of society itself and then mock you for getting help. It is okay for recovery to not be your goal – maybe your goal, like mine, is just to learn coping skills – but regardless, quality treatment should be accessible to everyone at their own pace.
The Murphy Bill will it make it harder for people to willingly access treatment if they know their information is vulnerable. The Murphy Bill's solution is to simply force treatment and then strip us of our rights and protection against abuses.
Call or write your representative today. Tweet at your legislators. Find your rep at http://www.house.gov/representatives/ and then use the generic contact us form. Call to the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your representative and ask them to oppose the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646).
There is a federal relay service for d/Deaf people listed at the bottom here http://www.house.gov/content/site_tools/accessibility.php)
Some people are calling for the return of “asylums.” It will be horrifying to see what legal loopholes they try to uncover in their quest. They are using people like me to further their ideas. They are saying people who end up hospitalized, especially those who experience repeat hospitalizations, are cause for a so-called safe place to keep us (but institutions are not safe; take a look at this history, no matter how altruistic the intentions, they limit freedom and are not safe).
They would rather not fight for community change and community funds. They are talking about our cost, our safety, our inability to care for ourselves, our pitiful state, our drain on society.
They are talking asylums and echoing the language of eugenics.
The Murphy Bill and Obama's executive order generalizes people with mental health needs and uses us to create public fear. A return to asylums is unthinkable.
Imagine a world that is already hard enough to navigate because of mental health needs. Now imagine everyone blames you for mass shootings. Imagine that someone could reveal your secrets to people they see fit, even if it's not an emergency. “But not you personally! I don't think of you as mentally ill.” Yes, me personally. I am someone who has mental health needs. Just because it shows less to strangers doesn't mean it's not there.
The sections become shorter as I have less and less to say, recycling words and trying to convince you that an entire group of people's humanity is worth respecting.
Further reading links to come