#WordlessWednesday: The Bus Stop

This #WordlessWednesday post is also a quick update.

As the United States gets into the thick of our elections, I’m
taking a short break from posting my usual mishmash to
work on getting out the vote.

Ways you can help to get out the vote:

Visit Ballotpedia to learn about voter laws in your state.

If you have a Twitter account follow @DNCWarRoom for
actions, both virtual and real.

Visit #DemCastUSA if you want to find ways to support the
down-ballot senate or house democrats.

I’ll be back in two weeks.

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“Busstop” (c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2020

Dreams

I found a freshly painted mural of @Doggface208 aka Nathan Apodaca,
on the corner of Haight and Fillmore.

I want to thank Nathan Apodaca for making it ok for people to stop
fighting and have fun.

This compilation video of the TIKTOK Skateboard Dreams Vibe is
14 minutes of pure joy.

Photograph of Mural of Doggface208 (c)Rob Goldstein 2020

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #20 NEW Image Prompt! Join in the fun! #IARTG #WritingCommunity #FlashFiction #ASMSG #WritingPrompts

poetry from Jan Sikes

Writing and Music

Author Suzanne Burke posts a new writing prompt in the form of an image each week and the responses are absolutely amazing!

 Each week she features an image and invites you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

This is my contribution. I want to give you a little background on this poem. When my late husband was dealing with such a difficult physical decline, during one of the many hospital stays, he developed pneumonia and I feared he might not live until morning. I held vigil throughout that long night and this poem came to me. I remember searching for pen and paper to get it down, and I remember the tears that fell as I scribbled it. I felt that I had to give him permission to let go and…

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Mental Health: Our Useless Rights

For this post’s purpose, I define a severe mental illness as a chronic medical condition that affects behavior, insight and judgment.

Picture it:

A filthy young man, confused and raging on Market Street, collapses at an intersection and rolls into traffic.

The police arrive.

An officer drags him to the curb and asks him if he has plans to hurt himself or anyone else. The young man shakes his head no.

The officer asks if he knows his way to the local soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

The young man shakes his head, yes.

Because he affirms that he is not an immediate danger to himself or others and claims he knows where to get food and shelter, the officers have no legal basis to mandate treatment.

The police drive off, and the young man rolls back into traffic.

The police cannot stop a sick and confused young man from obstructing traffic because it would violate his rights.

In 1963, President Kennedy signed the visionary Mental Health Centers Act, which authorized funding for a community-based care system in every state and county.

“I am proposing a new approach to mental illness and to mental retardation. This approach is designed,   in large measure, to use Federal resources to stimulate state, local, and private action. When carried out,  reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability. Emphasis on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be substituted for a desultory interest in confining patients in an institution to wither away.” President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In 1965, Congress approved the Medicaid Act, which offered higher reimbursement rates for community-based care, later the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provided financial support for people with mental illness who were trying to live in the community.

Passed in 1967, the Lanterman Petris Short Act prohibits involuntary civil commitments for the mentally ill in California unless a person is an immediate danger to himself and others, or is gravely disabled, generally defined as unable to access or make use of food and shelter.

The Community Mental Health System was supposed to replace or serve as an adjunct to State Hospitals.

By 1967 most cities in the United States had an active community mental health system.

That changed in the 1980’s.

The Lanterman-Petris Short Act fails in seven of its nine intents.

It does not end the inappropriate involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders because inadequately staffed for-profit prisons replaced the State Hospitals.

It does not provide prompt evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders because treatment resources are underfunded or don’t exist.

It does not guarantee or protect public safety.

It does not protect persons with mental health disorders from criminal acts because homelessness increases crime risk.

It does not provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the needs of each person receiving services because there are no services.

In theory, people with mental illnesses have the ‘right’ to the services and supports we need to live like people without disabilities, but we can’t access services and supports that don’t exist.

For people with serious mental illnesses, the Lanterman Petris-Short Act is an excuse to deny treatment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is a joke.

We don’t need access ramps; we need access.

Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease have a similar set of symptoms, but no one would say an Alzheimer’s patient has a human right to wander our cities in a daze.

No one would say an Alzheimer’s patient deserves to suffer.

Mental illness is not a civil rights issue.

Mental illness is not a moral failure.

Mental illness is not a result of toxic thinking.

Mental illness is not a choice.

© Rob Goldstein 2020