The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Deer Creek: A stark illustration of need for affordable care

This article speaks for itself.  I read it and felt both ashamed and angry that in our country, where there is so much available to so many, there is no hope for the mentally ill unless they happen to have great insurance or unless they live in an area with available low-cost therapy.
That this young man will now be cared for by the taxpayers does not escape my notice.  Wonder why we cannot pay the cost up front but are willing to pay the cost on the back-end?
Article Last Updated; Tuesday, March 02, 2010  12:00AM

Criminals and terrorists sometimes act without warning. People just “snap.” In other instances, the signals are not clear. The parents of Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris thought the behavior of their sons was within the normal range for teens. Identifying all such individuals, predicting what they might do and preventing the tragedies they cause never will be possible.

But others are easily identifiable as troubled people who pose a danger to others.

Here is what Denver Post writer Kirk Mitchell had to say about Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, alleged shooter at Deer Creek Middle School last week: “One time when his son was feeling particularly violent, War Eagle Eastwood wrapped his arms tightly around his son’s waist as Bruco pummeled him in the head, back and shoulders until exhausted. It was the only mental-health therapy Eastwood believed he could afford for his troubled son.”

Those brief sentences contain several key words and phrases: One time. Violent. Mental-health therapy. Believed. Afford. “If” is another crucial word in this case.

The elder Eastwood might have sought therapy for his son if he had believed he could afford it. If Bruco Eastwood had been covered by an insurance policy that covered mental-health care when his symptoms first began to appear. If low-cost or free services had been available nearby. If War Eagle Eastwood had known about them. If he had been able to find assistance in arranging care and convincing or forcing his son to accept it. If police and the courts had pushed Bruco Eastwood more firmly toward care years earlier. (According to the Post, after his felony convictions he was ordered to undergo counseling but not residential treatment, and the option of involuntary commitment was not pursued.) If. And if only Bruco Eastwood had not had access to his father’s gun. One paradox of the U.S. system of private health insurance is that people who have serious illnesses that prevent them from working are among the least likely to be able to afford the care they need. That is true regardless of the nature of the illness. Such people often also are among the least able to negotiate their way through the complicated processes that would help them fund their care in other ways.

The costs to the public of providing such care are high, partly because the cost of care in the United States is high, period. Years of funding cuts for mental-health services and years of diverting funds to pay for other programs have taken a substantial toll.

The Deer Creek story, and too many others like it, are stark illustrations of the high cost of inaccessible and unaffordable mental-health services. This is what happens when people who need help do not get it.

It is very likely that taxpayers now will fund years, perhaps even a lifetime, of care for Bruco Eastwood. A different funding mechanism for health care might not have prevented Eastwood from shooting two middle-school students. Then again, it well could have. A father’s statement that the only mental-health therapy he believed he could afford for his son was to hold him tightly until exhaustion overcame rage is a profound testimony that care is unaffordable and that the lack of affordability is life-threatening.

Here’s the link to the original article

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March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Deer Creek: A stark illustration of need for affordable care « The … […]

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