JoCo Mental health failures

David Chartrand

David Chartrand

Two decades ago the nation’s health care scholars established a blueprint — a set of litmus tests — for community mental health care. It was in the newspapers and everything.

Not everyone paid attention. Nowhere is this failure to follow the lead of modern medicine more vivid than in America’s upper middle class — the affluent suburbs. Consider Exhibit A — Johnson County, Kansas. Ninety-six percent of all Johnson Countians consider it a great place to raise a family, according to a Board of County Commissioners report. The commissioners don’t indicate how many folks consider it a great place to be treated for depression or bipolar disorder, which is to to be expected from officials who use the word “infrastructure” when measuring quality of life.

Mental health Litmus Test #1 was cited by a 1999 U.S. Surgeon General Report. You can look it up. The test looks for the existence of a local “surveillance: system that tracks the incidence of depression, suicidality and other emotional disorders in local population. One cannot reach the countless mentally ill persons in a community if nobody bothers to count them. One cannot discount the possibility that established surveillance methodologies were too confusing or awkward for Johnson County’s leadership. Continue reading

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