DesiGirl Talks About Mental Health Reform
Happy Friday Warriors!!!!
This week, here at MHD, we will be talking about the Mental Health System and what needs to be reformed. Today, I am going to really focus on the professional side of things as L4dyDMC will be sharing the Warrior perspective on reform.
I have been working in the mental health sector for about ten years and I started from the bottom as an intern that would make copies for the clinicians and escort patients to their clinician’s offices’. During that time I witnessed some of the flaws in the MH system, the first one being insurance dictating how many sessions a Warrior would get. I remember seeing Warriors for a few sessions and then being told they needed to either pay out of pocket or find another therapist. These were Warriors that were in the midst of a crisis and their insurance indicated that within 7 sessions their crisis should be averted. Now, from the therapist’s perspective our goal is to bring you back to your previous level of functioning, prior to the crisis; however, it was evident that the Warriors needed more than 7 sessions to process what they are going through. I also witnessed the opposite of patients being retained in treatment because their insurance paid good $$$$.
Once I began working as a clinician, I saw more “hidden carrots”. The first being large caseloads and the clinician expected to see their patient using the “conveyor belt” method. In the inpatient setting I would have a caseload of 25-25 Warriors and would be expected to see all of them within a week, provide them “excellent” therapy, and write impeccable clinical notes. This did not add in the crises that may pop up, which would hinder you from completing your daily duties. This led to 10-12 hour shifts and Warriors engaging in negative behaviors in order to get our attention. I would look around and see burnout and exhaustion among my fellow MH workers. Patients would complain their clinician does not care for them or “keeps doing drive by sessions”; however, how can we expect our MH workers to keep up with demand when there are limited resources available supporting the influx in MH crisis.
I also witnessed the ridiculous amount of time Warriors have to wait to see their therapists, in an outpatient setting. I remember as a MSW intern working with patients diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder and medical would place them on Methadone or Suboxone, but from the mental health side they were “waitlisted” waiting to be matched with a clinician. So patients would get one part of their treatment and be waitlisted for the other part. This led to several overdoses and patients bamboozling the system.
Now, I am not blaming anyone for any of these “barriers” however a system needs to be placed that puts the WARRIOR/PATIENT/CLIENT first and not the insurance companies or facilities trying to get the “gold star” by setting unattainable expectations that only lead to burn out. I know I am supposed to share HOW we can reform this system however I struggle to really give an answer to that question. From the professional aspect, there are way too many gaps in the mental health system. Even if we made a list of all the gaps, we wouldn’t be able to find a healthy medium. You may be thinking, “dang DesiGirl way to be positive” but the truth is that there is no “healthy medium”. The only option should be the WARRIORS and the MH WORKERS that serve the Warriors.
For example, I have a friend who works at a facility where Social Workers and Psychologists do the EXACT same job. But there is a drastic pay difference between the two. He shared that this “rivalry” causes the MH team to compete against one another. If you remember during Social Work Awareness month, I wrote about the different entities in the MH world. Psychologists go to school two additional years more than a LCSW or MFT. They also specialize in testing, which is a huge asset when it comes to diagnosing. From the management aspect, it would be beneficial for the Psychologists to focus on diagnosing, conducting testing, and addressing crises. Leaving the Social Workers to focus on therapy and providing the Warriors a safe environment to work on their mental health. Unfortunately, this can only be possible in a perfect world.
Another type of reform the MH system needs is not allowing insurance companies to decide how many sessions a Warrior needs. Rather, allow the professional to dictate how many sessions and how often they need. Like I said earlier the MH system needs to be Warrior focus not $$$$.
One of my goals for MHD is to help make a difference in the MH System, by psychoeducation Warriors and Non Warriors. I also hope to be able to partner with community members to help better the MH System, one barrier at a time.
Well Warriors, that is all I have today and hope you all have a great weekend 🙂.
Just a reminder L4dyDMC and I are working on revamping MHD. The next two months we will be having hiatuses for the following segments:
Meet With Us Mondays
Social Work Corner Saturdays
We will be also posting Fundamental Friday’s every other week, to give the MHD team time to work on the revamp and all the new fun segments coming your way.
BUTTTTTTT don’t worry, we will have Talk With Us Tuesdays (Podcast) every week and Self Care Sunday 🙃.
L4dyDMC Talks about Mental Health Reform
Happy Friday Warriors!
Welcome back to another wonderful weekend :). I am hoping that you are all enjoying yourselves and keeping yourselves happy and healthy! Please remember to take some time for yourselves and for some self-care during the next few days. Are we all ready for another important discussion regarding Mental Health? I know DesiGirl and I are. Today we will be talking about Mental Health System Reform: what needs to be changed and what we want to see changed?
The first thing that I would like to see change is that we have a mental health system that allows patients and healthcare providers to work together to decide how many sessions are actually necessary in each patient’s treatment. I completely agree with DesiGirl that it should not be up to the insurance plan or the insurance provider to dictate how many sessions it will take for someone to get better from their mental illness. As a Warrior, and as a patient I know it would have been very: stressful, awful, annoying and detrimental to me and my care if I had felt that pressure from my insurance company telling me that I would only be allowed to receive only a certain amount of treatment before getting cut off. As a patient and Warrior I can safely say that neither I nor my medical care team knew (and we still do not know) how many sessions it will take (if there is even a number) to get me better in my particular case of anxiety and depression. This is one of the particular reasons why it is so important that we as patients are consistent with our sessions because it is then and there that it is determined when and if it is time for us to stop attending our therapy sessions. As we keep reiterating here at MHD, Everybody recovers differently in everybody’s journey with mental illness is different (this includes the time the timeframe in which we recover). We should not all be placed into a cookie-cutter system where we are limited to receiving a certain amount of service before they basically force us to say that we are OK. This is very similar to a doctor telling a patient that they can only receive a certain amount of insulin or a certain amount of medication for their diabetes and that after that they have to be better. This is illogical and makes no sense either in the physical or mental realm of medicine. I would like to thank DesiGirl for explaining this to us and for showing us how insurance companies often look out for their own monetary gain/benefit. There needs to be a system where, similar to the medical team/professionals, the insurance carriers also believe in looking out for the patient’s well being first. I would like to thank DesiGirl for bringing this important matter to our attention. I have been a Mental Health patient who has received help in the past and now I am curious to know what would have happened with my insurance carrier had I continued my treatment for longer. Would they have stopped me as well? This is not ok and most definitely has to be changed in order to better our system.
Another aspect that I would love to be changed about our mental health system here in the U.S. is for more accommodations for veterans of our nation. As aforementioned in our podcast I truly and wholeheartedly believe that these brave men and women who risk their lives every single day for us for our safety and for the good of our country should be put in the forefront of our medical system. It would be wonderful to see them receiving priority care. I think it would be wonderful if we could create a mandate where every Veteran warrior would have to be provided Mental Health courses and care after they leave their post and re-enter civilian life. It would be great to see them and their family members being provided with these basic services that they have so bravely earned and more! It would also be great if we, as Warriors and part of this Mental Health System (we are the other side of it as patients), if we could also stop the stigma of a Warrior helping another Warrior recover. Who can better understand a veteran than someone who has been in their shoes? Who better to understand the mental aftermath of being on the battlefield than someone who has experienced it themselves? Who to better understand the physical and mental changes that our service men and women go through after their time in the armed forces than someone who has been in those shoes and has too been changed in a similar fashion? These situations would be no different than those in recovery shows like “Addicted” where we see therapists who were once addicts themselves helping other addicts begin and even succeed on their path to recovery. Who are we to judge? If someone has been capable enough, has studied and is knowledgeable enough to get certified/licensed to help others they should have all the right to be looked upon by society as worthy to help those that are in their same position.
Lastly, I would love to see the Mental Health community working hard to encourage more people to either become Social Works, MFT, psychologists or psychiatrists. Their work is so life saving to many and so needed and it is unfortunate that we have not built a community and/or system that makes this important line of work more appealing to other bright individuals who could make a difference in our Warrior community.
I hope to see these and many more positive changes out there in the Mental Health care system in my lifetime. I also hope that these changes and the ones to come are being worked on behind the scenes and that we can see their positive results in our community here in the near future…. For the benefit of all of us present-day Warriors and for the future Warriors to come.
XOXO L4dyDMC XOXO