My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – the Red-Headed Step-Child?

Has behavioral health always been the red-headed step-child in terms of research and funding levels? If these levels of research and funding followed the severity and reach of mental illness and addiction, might we see the following results? What if behavioral health funding were equal to say cancer funding or heart disease funding or diabetes funding?

  1. For one we would have adequate beds to treat people who needed inpatient care for behavioral health or addiction. 

2. For another, we would have adequate funding to develop psychotropic drugs and other interventions without such severe side effects as weight gain and Type II Diabetes onset and memory loss. 

3. Additionally, we would be treating war veterans for mental health and addiction impacts that can go untreated.

4. Fourthly, we would have enough resources to fund the Cohort Model discussed previously for people experiencing a significant event or setback. 

5. Fifthly, with more co-mingling of people with and without a behavioral health diagnosis we might be able to reduce stigma substantially.

6. Finally and most importantly, by being proactive in our behavioral health and addiction programs in the United States, we may be able to develop some early warning signs among people struggling with depression and/or paranoid thoughts and/or addiction so that we can care for those patients before their symptoms become dire.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Cohort Model Proposed

Adequate resources for mental health in my book would include funding allocated to the development of a Cohort Model to assist those experiencing a debilitating health event to gradually reenter society.  In my opinion, it would be less expensive for the State (at the State and Federal levels) to offer a Graduated Reentry Program than it is to provide disability insurance payments for all those who are unable to work a full-time job due to some sort of behavioral health or developmental disability.  This might include a mood disorder and/or an addiction issue.  In my opinion, people with behavioral health diagnoses ought to be able to work a 10 to 20 to 25 to 30 hour week and bring home enough pay so as to be a valid contributor to a family’s income.    Today this is generally not the case.  There are few part-time jobs available in the market today and the ones that are available do not provide a living wage or health insurance or occur during times of the day that are generally associated with sleep or family time. Also, disability payments in the US are few and far between and very difficult to qualify for.

The idea of a “Graduated Reentry Program” is that behavioral health consumers would progress from a 10-hour work week to a 20-hour work week to a 30-hour work week to a 40-hour work week depending on their health.  Participants would still be eligible for health insurance during this time provided they were engaged in all prescribed wellness activities.  When the hourly work week is at a reduced level, participants are expected to attend any given number of behavioral support meetings with their doctors or their therapists or in their community in order to prevent a repeat occurrence.  The reduced work week would be coupled with a regime of self-stewardship that might include mood support and recovery meetings, meetings with a therapist and/or meetings with a psycho-pharmacologist.  This time might also be time spent developing an exercise regime to reduce stress and limit unwanted thoughts.

The idea of a “Graduated Reentry Program” assumes:  1) behavioral health patients have serious work to do that is not part of a paying job typically and 2) it should be cheaper in the long-run for the State to sponsor a partial work week for behavioral health patients until such a time that they are ready to work a 20, or 30 or 40 hour week.  3) This type of program would allow people who manage a serious behavioral health disability or addiction to still earn a “living wage” even if they were working 25 or 30 hours of work per week.  4) This ability to work at a reduced level in order to dedicate time to managing aspects of the prescribed illness through support groups and support group programs, exercise and diet regimes, talk therapy programs and med management programs is hugely different than how that juggling act occurs today. 

Many people with mental health conditions, including myself, may not be able to work a full-time work schedule.  These people should have the sponsorship in society of working a 10 or 20 or 30 hour a week job as they are able.  Many people with mental health conditions seek financial assistance through Social Security Disability Insurance payments.  While this is often considered a critical financial development for some people with a mental health diagnosis, consider if more emphasis was additionally provided on programming to reentry society and the economy. 

Again, it is my belief that such a Graduated Reentry Program would pay for itself by increasing the productivity of workers who may move from a disability status to a 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 hour a week job status.  If it does not pay for itself, I believe the cost savings from the Paranoia Hotline / Paranormal Institute would pay for this Graduated Reentry Program. (See prior post regarding Paranoia Hotline).

Through the on-going development of this text, I am becoming more and more clear to myself and in myself as to my current emotional challenges.  While I am clear that a high paying job in project management is not a fit, I am not completely clear what type of job might be a fit for me.   While just a few years ago I was a keen advocate for a Graduated Reentry into society of working first 10 hours, then 20 hours then 30 hours a week, I currently am of the mindset that applying for Disability Insurance may be an important option for many people particularly in the absence of the Cohort Model in today’s America. If I am to continue to place a premium on our daughter’s development and on my own health, this may mean not working a job in the traditional sense.  This leaves the door wide open as to the possibility of making writing like the writing of this text to become “my work.”

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Coming up Last on the Funding List?

Has behavioral health always been the red-headed step-child in terms of funding levels for medical research and treatment?

If the statistics on mental health and addiction were more widely publicized, would we begin to see more clearly the widening funding gap between dollars to treat and cure mental illness versus research and treatment dollars dedicated toward heart disease, diabetes or cancer?  Currently, while mental health and behavioral health including the opiod epidemic and addiction pose tremendous challenges, the funds and expertise to tackle behavioral health and addiction just aren’t forthcoming at the same rate say for cancer research or funding.  What would happen if we as a society could place as much money and effort into mental health and addiction research and treatment as we do into cancer?  The projected impacts would likely be enormous.

  1. For one we would have adequate beds to treat people who need inpatient care for behavioral health or addiction. 
  2. For another, we would have adequate funding to develop psychotropic drugs and other interventions without such severe side effects as weight gain and Type II Diabetes onset and memory loss. 
  3. Additionally, we would be treating war veterans for mental health or behavioral impacts that often can go untreated or undiagnosed.
  4. Fourthly, we would have enough resources to fund a Cohort Model of support for those in a crisis or post-crisis state. 
  5. Fifthly, with more co-mingling of people with and without a behavioral health or addiction diagnosis we might be able to reduce stigma substantially.
  6. Finally and most importantly, by being proactive in our behavioral health and addiction programs in the United States, we may be able to develop awareness of early warning signs among people struggling with mental health and addiction before their symptoms become dire. 

It only follows that research for and treatment of mental illness and addiction is proportional to the level of medical challenge that is presented with these diagnoses.