Friday, February 2, 2024

Which is Cheaper?

 From 1/26/24 New York Magazine:

In Oxford, countless people I spoke to framed the events leading up to November 30 as “a mental-health story”: kids falling apart in a desert of care, the same as everywhere else in the country, but in some ways worse. Even before the pandemic, administrators in Oxford schools had started to notice more fragility, anxiety, depression, and withdrawal among students. In the late 1990s, the Republican governor John Engler had closed three-quarters of Michigan’s psychiatric hospitals in a cost-cutting spree, leaving rural areas barren of psychiatric inpatient treatment for kids. There was some outpatient help available, but many families didn’t know where to find it “unless they were very savvy,” one administrator told me. When they did, wait times averaged four months. This backlog strained emergency rooms. “Every time a kid said, ‘If I don’t get an A on this spelling test, I’m going to kill myself or kill you’ or something,” she was sent to the ER, says Sheila Marcus, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan who runs a program that trains primary-care doctors in mental health. Ninety percent of the time, these kids were deemed “not a threat” and sent back to school.

As usual mental health treatment is "too expensive" compared to drawing chalk marks around bodies, autopsies, hail costs, prison costs, and criminal trials.  I will not ignore that the parents and his friends had many indicators that their son was exhibiting evidence of mental illness. 

On April 5, Ethan told his friend by text that he was thinking about calling 911 on himself but was afraid his parents would be “really pissed.” He thought he was having a mental breakdown.

“I am going to ask my parents to go to the doctor’s tomorrow or Tuesday again,” Ethan wrote. When he tried to talk to his parents before, his father had given him some medicine and told him to “suck it up,” and his mother laughed. “She makes everyone feel like shit,” he wrote.

“But this time I am going to tell them about the voices. I only told them about the people I saw.”

“Ok,” the friend wrote back.

But who recognizes these signs?  When my brother spiraled down into schizophrenia, my parents had not a clue what the symptoms suggested. 

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