here is no amount of column space that could adequately summarize the gaps in the American healthcare system. They have been well-documented through peer-reviewed studies, spoken to for …
There is no amount of column space that could adequately summarize the gaps in the American healthcare system. They have been well-documented through peer-reviewed studies, spoken to for incalculable numbers of hours at Congressional hearings and testified about through the lives and experiences of everyday Americans for numerous generations.
The simple fact of the matter is that we are failing. As a country with access to so much wealth and power, we fail to provide adequate, accessible and affordable healthcare to millions of people across our country every day.
While this sad reality is experienced by many different groups of people, from cancer patients who can’t afford treatment to diabetics who are forced to neglect bills in order to buy insulin, it is a particular shame to realize how negligent we have been at preventing preventable tragedies from occurring to our children, who have no power and no ability to advocate for the improvement of their plight.
You may have seen the recent news that healthcare professionals across the nation and in Rhode Island have declared a mental health emergency, citing the existing weaknesses of healthcare system being exacerbated and entirely collapsed by the wrath of the ongoing pandemic. Hospitalizations for mental health crises have risen dramatically in the years leading up to Covid, and have only gotten worse since it started.
To read a fact as grisly as the one highlighted in the 2019 Rhode Island Youth Risk Behavior Survey — which showed that 15 percent of kids in Rhode Island high schools had attempted suicide at least once within the last 12 months — and not feel the impetus to change the current status quo should be nothing less than unconscionable.
It is no hidden secret that our inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities are underfunded and under-staffed. Employees that work despite those facts out of a sense of moral obligation to try and defy the odds and put themselves through horrible mental stress each day are underpaid and under-appreciated. This does not need to be the case.
Utilizing the once-in-a-generational Covid relief funds should be the start to a drastic shift in our approach to funding our mental healthcare system. So many of the problems that we throw resources at — crime, drug abuse and treatment, homelessness — could be more efficiently combatted with a more effective and legitimate effort to help people at their most vulnerable when there is still time to set them on a better path. We can do that through, in part, by demanding better early intervention in childhood mental health crisis situations, which requires muscle, money, and political will.
When physicians across the country are calling the same cry for help, we need to listen. We must not continue to pay lip service to the concept of “better mental health outcomes” and start putting our money where our mouths are.
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