Dear Governor Bush,
The title of this blog is vague yet I hope will get people’s attention who normally would not read blogs I write.
It is sad, but true, that if I wrote something like “I used to live in Florida and wanted to thank you for what you did for the mentally Ill” it would be ignored by almost everyone except mental health advocates.
That is because the topic of mental illness and the failing mental health system is a taboo subject in this election. The media and candidates refuse to talk about how they would solve the crisis that affects us all. Some of the candidates contribute to the stigma that is attached to the mentally ill. Do you not believe me? Then, read Where the 2016 Candidates Stand on Mental Health Issues by Time Magazine.
I am writing to you, Governor Bush, because I attended UCF and taught for about 9 years where you were governor. I recently found out that you had played a part in people with mental illness receiving better access to services. I thank you for that. I just wish you could have done more as governor and talked more about it during your campaign. Solving the problem is so important to so many people. In fact, 25% of the people in America have a mental illness. All the advocates really want to know what the candidates are going to do about this issue that is just as important as the other issues that are talked about. Ref1
I now live in a state where we have not yet voted. I am an independent voter and I am so undecided that the idea of writing in Mickey Mouse is becoming a reality. I am writing to you to see if you can somehow get people talking about the issue of mental health to help other advocates and I decide who we should vote for. I know it is too late for you to make your case and get elected. However, while you are in the national spotlight, it would be really admirable if you could insist that the media demands answers from the candidates of how they are going to SOLVE the problem.
I want this question answered: Candidates-Do you care about the 25% of Americans who have a mental Illness? PROVE IT!
Mental Illness and the Mental Health Crisis affects every single American! Think about it: It does not just affect the mentally ill (many veterans) and their families. It has an impact on those who have lost loved ones at the hands of someone with a severe mental illness or the people who were traumatized because they were there.
If you don’t know anyone who has a mental illness and were never at a tragedy scene, have you ever watched the media coverage of one? If you have, I would say you are affected too. If it were me, I would be worried that an unstable person with a mental illness would come in and start shooting at my workplace, my child’s school, where I worship, or at a public place where a lot of people are.
Therefore, I would have to say that pretty much every American should want to know what their future president is going to do about this issue. The voters want to know how they are going to solve it, and don’t want candidates to just brush it off and say a few words about it. It is just as important as many of the other issues discussed and definitely more important than the entertaining theatrics.
I want you to know the things that the mentally ill face:
- not knowing what symptoms to look for because the public is not educated
- embarrassment to get help
- not knowing where to get help
- can’t get help when they nee it
- being jailed instead of hospitalized
- the revolving doors because they can’t get outpatient care
- mistreatment by staff members in hospitals
- being ignored when they try to reach out to supervisors or patient relations after mistreatment
- being ignored after they plead the people who represent them in Congress to do something to help them and others- They get no response from emails, snail mail, phone calls, and social media
- being ignored by the media when they offer to tell their story and they want nothing to do with it and very rarely even talk about the mentally ill at all, especially patients who are dying due to mistreatment at hospitals and jails
- insurance companies deciding that they can’t get meds that have worked for a long time
- not being able to afford medications
- Discrimination and Stigma- If you don’t think we are discriminated against, then read I have a Dream Re: Mental Illness
A a mental health advocate and someone who struggles with a mental illness, I have written many articles and made many attempts to contact the media and politicians over the years without success. The thousands of people who read my blogs are usually other advocates and they encourage me with my efforts. The problem is that I need you and other people with influence to hear my voice and theirs.
The mental health crisis and the mentally ill can’t be kept out of the country with a wall. We are here and should have a voice. We are human beings who have endured not only our illness, but the stigma and discrimination that goes with it. We are Americans just like everyone else and even though many candidates might think we are not smart enough or too crazy to find our ways to the polls, we will. We just need to know what candidate is going to be on our side so we know who to support and vote for. (Please see below my signature all the other blogs I have written regarding mental health advocacy and asking the media and politicians for help.)
Founder of FB page Mental Health Advocates United
Founder of FB Group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
Picture credit: USA Today (captured from video)