I met with one of my local legislators today to discuss possible legislation regarding quality of mental health care and the severe shortage psych beds in our state, among other things. It was quite an interesting experience sitting in this local coffee shop talking budget concerns vs. the quality of a person’s life. I get it. It’s difficult to pass a state bill with funding attached to it, especially when it comes to mental health. So I then switched gears to things I thought could be done that wouldn’t add the burden of funding, like CIT training for first responders. This program puts first responders with those us with mental illnesses together so they can ask questions…in a sense pick our brains on how best to handle the situations they run into. How to diffuse a situation rather than make it worse. I thought, what if we could take this state-wide? Apparently this takes funding as well. They have to pay the first responders for their time. My ultimate goal is to put lawmakers and those of us that live with mental illness at the same table. If we can sit down and talk with them, tell them of our experiences in the “system”, tell them our stories, make it more real to them, put an everyday face to mental illness, we may have a chance of passing some meaningful legislation. We may stand a chance of passing some legislation that will actually work and help. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I still think this is possible.
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