I realize I often times come off as sounding uncaring. Maybe it is a bit of the old-school in terms of education coming out. You can't help but listen to dinner conversation about work growing up without being affected. So, sometimes I come off as callous and maybe even a bit conservative. It's funny, I catch it from both ends. That's life in the middle I guess. However, today I wanted to talk about something that I do care deeply about and that is mental health.
My leanings towards mental health go back to my background as a counselor. Then again, that goes back to my own battles with mental illness. At several points in my life, I have wrestled with the beast that is clinical depression. There are literally dozens of strands of depression ranging from dysthmia (the one I have) to major depression. Depression is under the family of "mood disorders" which also includes bipolar disorder. I suppose the interest in my own situation inspired me to become a counselor so I could help others in similar situations.
As psychological disorders go, depression is fairly tame. When we get into psychotic disorders we really get into the major stuff. This is where our political situation comes into play. Anyone that travels downtown knows that we have a significant homeless population and most of them are mentally ill. My wife once sat next to a man that had an argument with a hallucinated friend waiting for a bus. Fortunately, he was not violent, but in his current state he was unemployable. Furthermore, he was alone.
Going through my own battles was difficult enough and I had family, friends, and insurance to back me up. Many of our fellow Texans are suffering through this indignity alone and without help. Texas is 50th out of 50 states in what it spends per capita on mental health for its citizens. I once toured a facility in League City called Devereaux. Devereaux became infamous when it released Andrea Yates shortly before she killed her children. Yet, their hands are tied too. They have a wonderful program for children going through mental illness. They provide education, counseling, medication (if needed), and a regimented program that allows them to get well. None of the children in the program were from Texas when I went there. Why? Texas children can't afford the care.
So, the next time you hear Rick Perry prattle on about balanced budgets and tax cuts to business remember that story. Children in this state can't attend a facility in this state because their governor and state legislature doesn't care about them. Those people generally don't care about the general health of children in the state, and mental health falls below that one.
I hate to get religious in a time like this, but Jesus once said, "Whatever you do unto the least of my people you do unto me." I think it is time for many in the conservative branch to take a long look in the mirror. Of course, the same goes for all of us from time to time.