Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Mental Health System is Broken

Ever since Holland came home from the residential treatment facility, we've had access to really good services through the Oregon Health Plan.  It's really sad that it took Super Hero losing his job to get good health care.  Everything else about him losing his job has been horrible (not enough money for food; standing in line at churches to pick up food every week; barely being able to pay monthly bills; not being able to buy nice gifts for the boys' birthdays.)  But the health care has been the one plus of this whole situation.  I don't like depending on the government to "take care" of us.  But I'm really glad that there are programs set up like this - otherwise I really don't know, or want to think about, what we'd do if we didn't have this available to us.

We have a really great therapist that comes to our house.  That's never happened before.  Anyone who has been involved with therapy knows that there are lots of doctors involved and you are constantly driving all over the place.  With this insurance the therapist comes right to our house for family therapy and also therapy with Holland.  There are also "skills trainers" that come twice weekly.  So far we've had about 6 different people come out and take Holland into the community.  They've gone to parks, the library, out to grab ice cream, walks with their dogs, Goodwill to pick up computer parts and today the guy took him to Subway to grab lunch before our meeting with the psychiatrist.  Too bad he didn't eat anything except chips.  He said he didn't like their bread - even though they have gluten free, he didn't even want to try it. 

So there's what's good about our healthcare so far.  Here's where the breakdown happens.  In Oregon, some idiotic government people decided that at age 14, children have become competant enough to make decisions regarding their mental health and whether or not they should take medications.  At age 14 you're not allowed to: vote; serve on a jury; buy property; rent property; sue; be sued; sign legal documents; open a bank account; apply for a credit card; drink; drive a vehicle; get married (in most states!).  So by comparison, my child can tell whether or not he needs medicine that will help his dopamine levels even out, but not that Barack Obama will screw up this country for another 4 years.  Thanks for clearing that up.

When we went in for our first appointment with the psychiatrist since getting our new insurance, I had no idea that Holland would be signing for his own prescriptions.  In my mind, as the mother you go to the doctor, discuss the problems that are happening and decide on a treatment and get whatever medicine you decide together are appropriate.  What happens when he has pneumonia and refuses treatment for that?  This is just totally screwed up in my mind.  When the doctor was explaining what the medications were for (to help him be more calm and to sleep better), he said "no, I don't want you to give me medicine that will make me not like the computer.  And I also don't want to sleep in, in the morning."  He gets up at 3:30 in the morning and roams around the house doing the wii and the computer.  He doesn't want to sleep anymore because he'll miss time on the computer.  Yep.  That sounds like a totally competant person to me.  One that can appropriately judge how he may or may not need to take medication to regulate his mood and sleeping habits.  I now understand why his residental stay ended at age 14.  Because the state can no longer give him medication after age 14 without his consent.  And guess what?  NO ONE told me that!  Not ONE person on staff there mentioned that when we got home, Holland would be able to refuse treatment.  If they would have done that, I would have pulled him out of there before he turned 14, and gotten him on this insurance.  Then we would have at least been able to get him started on medication that would be regulating his mood and helping him sleep.

This is how the mentally ill in the country are getting swept under the rug.  The government is making it impossible for families to help their own children get treatment.  They declare children competant at age 14 (and in Washington state it's 13!) so they can refuse treatment without even understanding what a drug's benefit can actually be.  This is pure insanity.

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