Demeaning People with Mental Illness

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on yet another Veterans Administration scandal.  The local facility was manipulating the appointment wait times by taking every appointment and then cancelling appointments last minute because they couldn’t accommodate the appointments they took in order to prove they had no wait time.

The article highlights that one veteran attempted suicide after his mental health appointment was cancelled for 4th time.  The following is an excerpt from the VA’s report:

“the veteran stated he used the cancellation of his appointments as an excuse to act out and attempted to harm himself. He said he regrets his actions and that he received help and now has follow-up appointments.”

What the ever living fuck? EXCUSE???? NO. Just NO. A person who is attempting suicide should not have their actions shamed with the term EXCUSE. Nor to have the term “Act Out” used in relationship to those actions. Act Out. A term often associated with misbehaving children.

Do they say that pain caused by mental illness is a childish behavior? Apparently Yes.

Do they say that resultant condition of suicide attempt is an aberration of bad behavior and therefore must have an EXCUSE? Apparently Yes.

People need to recognize that mental health is not just bad behavior or character traits. It’s a serious disorder of the brain. And its deadly. And treating it like it’s just a character flaw that should be apologized for is just make it worse. It is demeaning and part of the culture of shame that makes people hide their illness rather than seek help.

The problem of the VA’s appointment manipulation is bad.  But the hidden and far more insidious problem is that they are treating potentially fatal illnesses like they are bad behaviors in children.

I don’t even have enough calm of mind to describe how wrong this is.

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