Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Mental Health Care System

You know how hard it is to find a good hairdresser? Imagine that you need your hair done, but you can only go to a select group of hairdressers. You're "hairdressing provider", who is paying for your hair care, gives you a list of names and numbers of hairdressers that you may go to with their approval.

You call these hairdressers, and a quarter of them say they are not taking new clients. Another quarter say they do not cut or color hair on people your age. Maybe another quarter say they are not in your "hairdressing network", and that they don't know why they are on the list that your hairdressing provider has given you.

Before getting down to the last quarter of potential hairdressers, you've been put on hold, told you've got the wrong number, and to call their "hairdressing intake number", or you were greeted with a voice mail, swearing they'd call you back soon.

Now imagine you're down to your last quarter of potential hairdressers whose names and numbers you've been given. Imagine that those hairdressers tell you it will be a month before they can see you, and you have to take whatever time they have available. "What?", you say, "But, I've got work, school, a family to take care of...and my hair looks terrible now!" Doesn't matter, take it or leave it.

Finally the day comes for your hairdressing appointment. You sit down with the hairdresser, and she proceeds to ask you for a whole history of your familly's hair. A whole hour is spent on that, and then the hairdresser recommends you see a "hair product specialist" as well. So, it's back to square one with setting another appointment which will take you another month or so to schedule.

Your hair product specialist says your hair is dry, and gives you some conditioner to fix this. You use the conditioner, but your hair is still dry. When you tell the specialist this, he says you need to use more of the conditioner. Then when you go back and tell the specialist your hair is still dry, he suggests a whole new conditioner, and the next time, to combine two conditioners to fix your dry hair.

Meanwhile, back at the hairdressers, you meet your stylist. You may or may not like her personality, but at this point you're desperate. She says you will have to come to her about every other week so she can attempt to fix all your hair woes. After weeks of this you may or may not like your hair. Then one day on an appointment, your stylist regrets to inform you that she is going to another salon, and it is either an hour away from you, or not on your approved list of hairdressers.

So now the merry-go-round starts all over again.

One one desperate night, your hair suddenly starts falling out! You rush to the phone to call the salon, only to be told that they can't help you. "Try the hair emergency clinic." they tell you. You call the hair emergency clinic and they tell you to sit and wait till they can pre-approve you for emergency hair care. You sit for hours, watching your hair falling out, not knowing what else you can do.

You are admitted to the emergency hair care center, and they quadruple your conditioner in the hopes that that will fix your problem. 2 weeks later, your hair's pretty weighted down from all the product, and you have no idea how to keep your hair from falling out in the future.

And oh, by the way, turns out the salon you've been going to is not really in your hairdresser network, so you now owe 50% of all the charges you've incurred there.

Now imagine that we are not talking about something so trivial as hair. Hair grows back, afterall. Imagine we are talking about your mental health, or your child's. The mental health care system in this country is a living nightmare, frustrating to no end, extremely frightening, and confusing.

How can this happen? Most people do not care if they don't have to go through this hell; they don't even think about it. Many people don't want to talk about mental health, mental disorders and disabilities, even in a country where you can't open a women's magazine without seeing half a dozen ads for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills.....where your primary care doctor will prescribe you these pills just on your say so that you aren't feeling quite right.

And so the nightmare continues.....


Patti_Cake said...

Somehow I knew this wasn't about something as trivial as hair when I began reading.. I am so sorry you are going through this Hon.

I'm here from Maidink (but don't hold that against me - hehe.. *smooches* Maidy!)

Lily of Philly said...

I won't hold that against you, but I wouldn't mind holding Maidy against me.

LadyBraveheart said...

Dear Lily,

I so can relate to your description of your adventures with "hair care" specialists. Even more so when it is a discussion of the medical/mental health system in this country.

Good luck with getting through it all successfully.