Community Mental Health

 

(More about the geezer above shortly!)

My doctorate was finished and then it was time to decide on a future direction. Again my intuitive personality took charge. I’d had enough of academia and wanted to go exploring. Of course I could do it in a university but I wanted to get out into the world.

And just at that moment the community mental health movement was opening. There was a deep division between state mental hospital systems and private or local helping systems. It sounded interesting to focus on the community.

Coming to Baltimore

The door that opened first was to a program in the inner city of Baltimore. I was met at the airport by Carl, a community organizer who knew his city well and I got a grand tour. It was endlessly fascinating and suggested challenge. My interview with the asian man who was the director of the program went well. We meshed viewpoints. I was also interviewed by the head of psychology who fell asleep almost at once. I sat quietly until he woke up and thanked him for a truly interesting interview.

Carl and the director had me and I signed up.

Truth Is Revealed

On the day I arrived to begin work I was taken to my office in what seemed like an empty suite. I was told I could begin to see patients. How that was to happen escaped me entirely. So I wandered around and found a black woman social worker by the name of Roz. We hit it off and she took me out to the streets to begin my work by visiting reality.

The Bottom line

This was the impoverished inner city of Baltimore and the education was immediate.

Shortly we had a young multiracial staff working to focus our efforts. While there was a general overview, it was apparent that local matters required a focus. Each community was different and there was one challenge after another. 

Reality

We learned quickly that the biggest challenge to mental health was poverty. In retrospect the operational word was DUH! Our efforts became often focused on job issues and fortunately there had been foresight in that each center had a vocational rehabilitation counselor. As a psychologist I was often involved in doing assessments.

It is obvious now but what we found was that having no job or a poorly paying one caused depression and anxiety. Not that there weren’t personal issues as outlined in a previous post but getting someone trained or educated with a decent job had huge “mental health” benefits.

Other Challenges

Nothing was simple. We didn’t simply counsel people. We had to face multitudes of issues personal and organizational. It was often necessary to be careful about referral to services  because we had to know what the services really were. What the brochure  said often didn’t reflect reality. And if the person was truly “mentally ill” we had to consider what the state hospital system really offered.

Another Bottom Line

But let me get to the deepest disappointment. Our young staff was committed and fighting for our people on the streets. Shortly we learned that the other big challenge was that the leadership in the university and the state systems had a whole different set of values. Winning a community mental health program and the funding was a feather in their cap. And they wanted to apply the funding to existing programs. Conflict was inevitable and some staff was not sent to work with us but were diverted to existing positions. 

It was clear that there was not a total commitment like the young staff had. What I learned in my twenties was the problem with older white men. Decades later I find the problem to be systemic and I have no more sympathy for their positions now than I did in my twenties. 

I find much of what they do self centered, representing entrenched interests and a narrow focus. And now we have a fight to wage to bring women to power, and to address ethnic and racial interests. Now that I am an older white man my commitment has not changed from very many years ago. In time we saw entrenched power bring an end to the vision of community mental health. Such a loss of a movement with terrific potential.

###

 Coming Soon

Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation: Life Forces Revealed

(Book 3 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

The child of prophesy is coming of age.

Earth has descended into almost biblical chaos.

        Then comes an opening to a future never anticipated.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1   (Click to See)

Avery’s life of dedication is enhanced when she meets the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was ordained.

      Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2   (Click to See)

The Tethyan people of the sea have been joined by the Andromeda warrior women. They fight for the future of humankind. Then will come the Child of Prophesy.

Available now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.

The Truth of Mental Health

 

 

Have we learned anything about mental health? Oh!! Wait a minute. I’m a psychologist with a Ph.D. I’m supposed to know about such a thing.

In reality the first question above is very much to the point. Over the decades of my career I feel like I’ve seen a wrecking ball taken to the field and in some ways it seems like no one noticed. In my head I’ve had to dismantle the whole system a piece at a time.

A Rough Division

It is impossible in a small space to be comprehensive and totally informing. But let me offer something of a view.

First off:

Why do we call it mental health? We had to get these troublesome issues away from the churches. We were beginning to see that God was not misdirecting much of this in our lives and neither was the devil. So if we moved it over to “health” we could take other more functional approaches.

When I Came To The Field

I came to psychology wanting a career with a science. But shortly after I began my doctorate I found I was not drawn to the form of science I was seeing. In fact my intuitive personality had put its foot down. I wanted to explore what might be and there was much more of an open door if I moved my studies over to the the clinical arena.  

Here Is A Noncomprehensive List of Sorts

In a sense the field had been broken up with a pitchfork. Psychoanalysis had different parts but its focus often was on self exploration. Fair enough. A person might not see themselves as sick but wondered what they might find with self exploration.

There were general studies of a life going wrong. Entry was through a rather large door with a lot of possibilities. It might be truly troubling or simply problematic and in need of work.

Then there were relationship issues. Failure to find a deeply engaging other. Questions about sexual identity. And on and on.

Family issues related to marriage and the functioning of children, our parenting ideals are examples. Again, it might not be very pathological but intriguing or just plain troublesome.

At a larger focus there were community and socially based issues including the effects of financial and job factors.

And then, of course, there was biological/congenital issues and that may well mean insanity and other such deeply dysfunctional and disturbing issues.

What Is The Point?

From the list above it is apparent that it is almost impossible to be totally comprehensive and perfectly organized when it comes to human functioning.

But it would be useful if we did a better job of organizing the issues because that leads to more focalized approaches. And then, of course, there is the matter of personal and bias agendas.

In future posts I’m going to give some specific examples which demonstrate why we need greater clarity in our focus and organization. Human needs in our functional and emotional elements are important and evaluation is crucial. I found exactly the same set of issues when it came to testing for intelligence. We can come up with basic data but it is immensely more complicated than the scores achieved with intelligence tests.

Lying Before Us

Challenges in human existence are everywhere. We can see that as troublesome or we can work to organize and focus the challenges. Decade after decade I’ve felt the same way about getting clearer foci and dedication. In coming posts I’ll give some examples.

###

 Coming Soon

Gaia’s Majesty-Transformation: Life Forces Revealed

(Book 3 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

The child of prophesy is coming of age.

Earth has descended into almost biblical chaos.

        Then comes an opening to a future never anticipated.

##

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1   (Click to See)

Avery’s life of dedication is enhanced when she meets the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was ordained.

      Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2   (Click to See)

The Tethyan people of the sea have been joined by the Andromeda warrior women. They fight for the future of humankind. Then will come the Child of Prophesy.

Available now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.

A Crisis Turning Point

 

A New and Terrible Crisis

Have we reached the crisis turning point for America? With each crisis previously it seemed we might face a major problem but the corrupt leaders in our government blocked it time and time again. Will they be able to do it again or will the American people arise.

Seeking a Focus and Direction

After the recent tragedies it is clear we have to face the issues for what they are. One of the things being proposed is that we have what is called “red flag” legislation That means we would be alerted to unstable people so there could be intervention and prevention. It is also proposed that we have improved mental health services.

Not Primarily a Mental Health Issue

We need improved mental health services but mental health is not the central issue. Psychologist Here!  What we are seeing is a country beset by racism and corruption. As to the racism, the fundamentals are social issues, not mental health issues.

Take a look at what happened to Germany in the twentieth century. Due to a variety of unfortunate errors and circumstances they were led into war and a terrible defeat in World War I. The prevailing powers failed to respond with the need to help them recover to a stable form of government. The ongoing suffering was terrible and led to the rise of Naziism. The people of Germany had been victimized and it led to even more carnage.

A Markedly Authoritarian and Unstable President

In this country we must face the reality of our circumstances and this is not a mental health crisis. Surely we need to pay attention to unstable individuals but our first view needs to be of a president who is unstable, deeply pathological and is validly described as a Narcissistic Sociopath. He is supported by corrupt people around him and in his party. The president is seeking to drive us into an authoritarian state for his own personal benefit.

Facing Social Issues and Corruption

It must be emphasized that the instability and racism we are seeing is a social phenomenon. Humans are social creatures and can be herded into this type of malfunction and we must face it for what it is. The corruption must be dealt with and we need to combat social malfunction leading to violence and racist outbursts. People need to be educated and guided as we build relationships that will lead us to a better day.

We have a lot of work to do. The Republican Party I grew up in has been replaced by a corrupt party. The fact is we need a functional two party system. At present we are down to one. The work ahead will be difficult but must be done. With an unstable America the world is in jeopardy.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challeng

The Tyranny of Older White Men

 

The Rule of Men

Throughout history mostly it is older men who have ruled. They sent their people into endless wars, took the riches for themselves and dominated women. Currently in America the domination is clearly in the hands of older white men. While I am an older white man my eyes remain on a time of discovery I had over fifty years ago.

Forced Awareness

Early in life can be a time of discovery but it may also may be a time of innocence from which we have to recover. For me the awakening came in stages. While I am an intuitive personality type and seek what may be, I also begin with an acceptance of how things are until forced to reassess. As I have said, moving to North Carolina in the 1960s was a time of coming to see entrenched racism  But when I took the job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore it became a time of new discovery.

End of Innocence

I had never been close to poverty and what I saw in Baltimore was deeply disturbing. But I thought there was hope. I had taken the job to bring much needed mental health services through the dynamic community mental health movement. How naive we all were!

Our staff was a racially mixed batch of twenty somethings both male and female. We had been given a structure that we had to dispense with immediately. It was a grand idea but we had come not understanding that the biggest enemy of mental health was poverty. We had to implement a whole new agenda.

The Grand Impediment

We went to work to respond to how things were and what was needed but there were people who did not see it our way. The management of the program was in the hands of men in the university and the state. Those systems were ruled by older white man who cared not at all for our mission. They basked in the glory of having gained the grant from the federal government and wanted to use the funds as they saw fit, not as they were needed. We were young, dedicated and intransigent.

Some Examples

The mental health system generally worked on two levels. There were people who could pay for services or use insurance to get mental health services. Then there were the impoverished people. At the time in Baltimore they were seen by psychiatric residences who generally did not give therapy but medication. And these people were seen as being there for helping to train medical students who passed through on six week rotations. The students knew nothing about the real life of these people and six weeks is much too short to really begin to work with an individual or a family. We found a variety of ways to block the residents and medical students from dominating our program. For that we were not at all popular.

My “Elevation”

We had a resident in our unit who did not particularly like his job and shortly he resigned. By then our intransigence was known but I was elevated to head the unit. I knew it was not an accolade. Psychologists fall just below psychiatric residents in the metal health hierarchy so I was next in line. The new position was fine with me and the staff but was clearly not an affirmation of my abilities. But it put me, along with my staff, in a position to see the operations of senior staff were actually not in the interests of our clientele.

The Bottom Line

I could go into extensive details but the point is already made. My naivete was gone. In my twenties I saw the domination of older white men as they served their own interests and not the interests of the people. This lesson has been carried forward through my life and I consider it entrenched corruption. 

The other major event was the women in the program who began to work for their empowerment. My support of that movement has also been carried forward. I believe their empowerment is going to be important in overcoming the often corrupt rule of older white men.

These life lessons fueled my interest in writing my magical realism series, Gaia’s Majesty. 

The Overlords represent the older white men I had seen and the activist women the dedicated women I had seen and suggested the future I believe we must see.

In time the dedicated and rebellious twenty somethings moved on and were replaced by more compliant staff. The system and the innovation collapsed and it moved back to the origin system. The breadth and revolution had been destroyed. What has not changed is that we are still ruled by the older white men. Need I say I believe its time to have them taken down from power?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Guns in America

 

Standing Alone

With the extent of gun violence America stands alone in the world. The time to do something about it is long overdue which should be apparent to everyone. But it is clear that gun manufacturers are in control of Congress and the president.

At Least There Is A Debate

Currently we are debating about options. One of the options relates to mental health. As a psychologist I have an opinion which is relevant.

A First Question

It is relevant to ask if mental health problems are at issue for the perpetrators. It would be absurd to assume it is not, All we need to do is look at their history, their rantings and their claims and it is clear that they are unstable and dysfunctional in a variety of ways. Then comes another question.

Can We Respond With Mental Health Treatment

The simple answer is “NO”. First of all we have no viable way to screen for the issues, the instability and the intent among many other factors. Then, if we could determine that the person is a danger we would have to ask if we can make them get help. The answer is also “NO”. No one can be forced to accept treatment in a meaningful way and even if we could force it they are capable of not responding.

Taking The Option Off The Table

While it would be desirable to get help for these people for many reasons, it is almost impossible to identify them. The answers to the problem of gun violence lies elsewhere.

The First Step

Most of these mass shootings involve assault rifles. Military people are clear with us. Assault rifles are weapons meant for the use of the military to create mass casualties in war time. They do not belong in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The Way Ahead Is Clear

Assault weapons must not be in the hands of ordinary citizens and should not be for sale to the public. The ammunition likewise should not be available for purchase. These are the first clear steps.

Our Focus

The National Rifle Association is clearly in the hands of gun manufacturers. Likewise there are many people in our government who are doing their work for them. They must be voted out of office.

The Way Ahead

Our direction is clear. Mental health is an issue but one which we cannot use for greater impact. The weapons of war must not  be sold. We need to clear our political house and remove politicians who do not serve the public interest.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge