You may have heard in the news last November that a Virginia state senator, Creigh Deeds, was attacked by his son at his home before his son killed himself.
The CBS news program 60 Minutes did a story on Creigh Deeds and Gus Deeds Sunday night, and it shed more light on what happened in November and how the U.S. is not equipped with resources to properly care for those with mental illness.
In a segment called “Nowhere to Go: Mentally Ill Youth in Crisis,” Creigh Deeds tells his story about trying to get help for his son. Creigh Deeds got an emergency custody order, which lasted just six hours, to get his son to an emergency department in Virginia, but he and his son ended up going home without the help Gus Deeds needed.
The next morning, Gus Deeds attacked his father with a knife before shooting and killing himself.
The story notes that most people with mental illness are not violent. The story focuses on those “who are a danger to themselves or others.”
You can view the segment or read the script HERE.
The Virginia General Assembly is now in session, and one piece of legislation that Creigh Deeds has proposed would extend the length of time of an emergency custody order to 24 hours. Another piece of legislation would “establish an acute psychiatric bed registry that will provide real-time information on the availability of beds in public and private psychiatric facilities and residential crisis stabilization units for individuals who meet the criteria for temporary detention.”
In the 60 Minutes interview, Creigh Deeds said, “There’s just a lack of equity in the way we as a society, and certainly as a government and insurance industry, medical industry, with the way we look at mental health issues.”
I agree with him. What can we do about that?
Here are some suggestions:
*Find out what is going on in your state with mental health services. Are they adequate? Do they meet the needs in each community?
*Support legislation that would improve services.
*Be a friend to those in your life who have mental illnesses. Be the kind of friend that you are to those without mental illnesses.
*Remember that there is much more to a person than his or her mental illness, just as there is much more to a person with diabetes than his or physical challenge.
*Seek help if you have any concerns about your mental health.
*If given the opportunity, be a voice for those who have mental illness. Remind others that those with mental illnesses deserve the same kinds of sympathy and help that those with physical illnesses deserve.
Thank you for reading this and for your support of me on this blog.