My eyes were opened to what it is like to be a consumer of mental health services in Virginia when my son became ill with a psychotic disorder. I have seen how confusing and even traumatic it can be trying to navigate limited services, turned away from community mental health services because we have insurance, yet not finding a way to meet the need for coordinated and integrated services from inside my families' top notch health insurance plan. Before this, I saw mental health from the inside - as a psychologist with the Youth and Families group working for Fairfax County, and then in private practice in McLean. Little did I know what it was like from the other side. I knew so much about mental health, yet I couldn't help my son.
Joining mental health support groups made me realize I wasn't alone. It helped me to tell my story, and to draw strength from others who told theirs. We all have so much in common. We love our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We often travel to other states to find services not available locally. And even when we find the treatment, we can't necessarily get our loved ones to accept it. When our children, delirious or agitated with psychosis, become more than we can handle at home, we hesitate to call the police out of fear things may turn bad. We turn over our couches for months and sometimes years to someone we love who seems so lost to illness. We hope for small wins, and hope that small steps in the right direction gain momentum.
For some of us, it also helps to become politically active. If you have a story to tell about finding mental health treatment services in Virginia, we want to hear it. Email us at info.VAMHR.com.