Getting Mental Healthcare in the US can Drive you Insane
We live in one of, if not the, most mentally ill societies in the world. One could draw this conclusion from the shameful number of senseless murders and mass-shootings that happen on a regular basis and the nonsensical babbling of our leaders that ignore, justify, or provoke them. One could look at the suicide rate in this country, not the highest in the world, but too high for a country with the money and resources at our nation’s disposal. One can look at the rate of addiction, of people self-medicating, and at the fact that 13.2% of the US population was prescribed SSRIs from 2015–2018. Hell, one could just take a look at the things people say online. Or one could just look up the statistics which show that nearly twenty percent of the US population has a mental illness.
We are an unwell people. The meaning and intensity of mental illness can vary greatly. Someone suffering from depression is not comparable to someone who believes it is their right to get pleasure by hurting other people. But the commonality among all people, with any kind of mental illness, is that they need treatment, and the problem is that so many of them are not getting it. Everyone, whatever their condition, whether they could potentially harm themself or others, or are chronically unhappy or restless or whatever, should be entitled to counseling and treatment. Psychiatry and therapy should be guaranteed rights, freely available to all people.
Correlation may not be evidence of causation, but it is in many cases the structure and systems of our society which cause or inflame the symptoms of mental illness. There must be a reason that the people of our country are so miserable in respect to comparable nations. Contributing factors would be the legacy of violence and exploitation that built the country, the greedy mindset which values the profits of the few over the lives and wellbeing of the many, all undergirded by the selfish dogma of capitalism.
However responsible the nature of our society is for its sickness, the ruling class of our country abdicates any responsibility and rejects ameliorating the problem. Too concerned with short-term gains, they care little for the health of individuals or for the long-term success and stability of our people and country. This is exemplified by the dearth of mental health services available to most people, particularly the poorest and most in-need, and the difficulty for even those with some means to obtain care to actually receive it. The mental health crisis in our country gives greater emphasis to how supremely fucked our healthcare system is.
The health insurance industry is a rotting parasite. It’s foolish to think it could have ever been anything else when one thinks for just a minute about the absurdity of a for-profit healthcare system, which benefits by denying service. It exists to not do its job. It succeeds by failing us. This will be evident to anyone who tries finding a mental healthcare provider through their insurance.
I tried to find a therapist and psychiatrist for years, since moving to California. I got the latter after a while, an elderly woman who spent our sessions talking entirely about herself and hardly asking me anything, but who was amenable to writing me a year’s worth of prescription refills at a time. I never found a therapist. I spent hours and days of my time scrolling through the lists of providers supposedly covered by my insurance and calling them, only to be told that they weren’t accepting new patients, were no longer in practice, or didn’t in fact accept my insurance. As frustrated and angry as I became, I knew I couldn’t blame the therapists themselves. They’re too few and too high in demand. And as for all those, often better, therapists who have chosen to go out of the system because the hurdles that insurance companies make them run are absurd and the pay pathetic, I can’t blame them either. It’s our healthcare system and our priorities as a society that need to be abolished and made better. As with all healthcare, the extortionist anachronism that is our insurance system needs to be demolished and replaced with a universal single-payer system. A country is only as healthy as its people, and we are desperately ill.