We Must Fight for Better Health Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: Cornelia Sims Rappoport

A recent Times-Union article referred to this city's "ticking time bomb" related to mental illness.

I have managed the care of many patients, from facilitating senior groups who suffer from depression, grief and adjustment disorders to those who are in locked units because of behavior related to their schizophrenia.

I have developed the nursing behavioral health program at one of the leading home health agencies. The home environments of some of these patients is terrible to behold. Home health nurses referring the patients to outside resources and by counseling stressed family members. But it is not enough.

IMPORTANT GROUP DISBANDED

I am a proud founding member of a group of dedicated mental health professionals who met twice monthly to coordinate care for the disenfranchised person of an underfunded society, including the jail system.

This group was named U-ACT, the United Agents for Coordinated Treatment Team. We provided support and solutions for mostly seniors who often entered revolving doors of hospitalization and mental health centers.

Because of administrative and funding changes, this significant advocacy group was disbanded. Meanwhile, the mental illness crisis continues to reach dangerous levels in Northeast Florida, and very few people seem to care.

Families are in denial. Society jokes about the mentally ill because of fear and lack of education.

As for the police training, I have presented at the police academy with others, discussing crisis intervention, including the imperative of the "least restraint" principle when police are called to manage a delirious and/or psychotic patient. …