I came across an article today entitled Why Is It So Hard For Students To Find Good Mental Health Treatment? by a friend of a friend, Lauren Campbell, about the difficulty for students to find good mental health treatment, yet this is a problem that plagues more than just students. When you are in the middle of a depression, anxiety or other mental health crisis, you need help NOW and sometimes it takes months to just admit that part to yourself or a loved one. Then the challenge of finding that help begins – who will take my insurance (assuming you have some)? The [insert insurance plan here] network is big so it shouldn’t be a problem right? Oh, wait a minute, the list of 500 mental health providers in my radius just shrunk to 13? Ok, I’ll email/call/smoke signal them. Waiting list? Three months? WTF? My brain is convinced I need to die/stop eating/join a cult/quit my job/etc., I’m not sure I can wait three months.
Frustrated yet? Ms. Campbell outlines this well:
“The counselor had given me a flier with a list of resources on it, websites I could visit and numbers that I could call. It was one dead end after another. Many of the local clinics or practices I contacted had the same answers— we aren’t accepting any new patients, we don’t take your insurance, our next available appointment isn’t for 16 weeks.
I called the information referral line, where they directed me back to the same clinics who couldn’t accommodate me. I called one crisis intervention hotline after another, most advising me to “call 911” if I was really in crisis. When I asked how an emergency room doctor could even begin to help me, they said I’d most likely be transferred to an in-patient psychiatric program.”
Then there is the stigma of mental health disease. It is widely assumed these are the people who shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns, or sit in the corner chewing on their hair when in reality the term “mental health” is about as broad as the term “dinner”. The Breakfast Club said it best “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.”
When I went through my period of darkness last year, I found that once I started opening up about it, more and more of my friends did too. The ones who seemed to have it all together were also struggling in their own ways. Most of us feel like imposters in some way or another and no one has their shit together quite as much as it looks everyone else.
“The simple act of talking about mental illness can go a long way. When we share stories, we share resources. We create a network of support. We find comfort in knowing that, beneath the surface, we’re all paddling furiously to stay afloat.”
That’s what we’re trying to do here. Talk about it. Sharing stories. How to try to make our lives better in a realistic way.