Mayor John Marchione read a proclamation last week to recognize September as “National Recovery Month.” Its purpose is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.
I know something about mental health disorders. For three years, I sold an SSRI for OCD, slow-release Ritalin for ADHD and sustained-release lithium for bipolar disorder. Poor mental health is rampant in my family, especially on my mother’s side. All of my relatives have recovered from bipolar (myself included), some better than others, with the exception of my younger brother Rick. He died at 46 from complications of severe bipolar disorder, co-morbid alcoholism and prescription drug self-medication.
The Eastside has many good recovery and treatment programs. Kent Hay, Redmond’s outreach specialist, provides psychiatric and social services for the vulnerable and homeless. Therapeutic Health Services in Bellevue offers opioid addiction treatment. Youth Eastside Services, Friends of Youth, HERO House, NAMI and other Eastside nonprofits have recovery programs.
I can’t stress highly enough the importance of finding a science-oriented doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Overlake Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic in Bellevue provides 20 excellent doctors who accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.
EvergreenHealth doesn’t employ psychiatrists or psychiatric nurses or have an outpatient clinic. However, they provide an “in-home” program operated by trained social workers. Evergreen opened a 14-bed “Transitional Care Unit” this year to attend to emergency room patients awaiting transfer to a mental health facility. In the past, some of these patients had to be “boarded” (strapped to a gurney for hours or even days).
Evergreen is a public hospital and supported in part, by King County taxes. Unfortunately this year, the state legislature reduced mental health funding in King County by more than 8 percent from last year. Washington state has the lowest access to mental health care in the nation!
There’s far to little “talk” to mitigate the stigma associated with poor brain health. Discrimination in the workplace occurs. Doctors, medications, counseling and family support can only go so far and it’s easy to lose hope. Spiritual support helps. Two churches on the Eastside offer support programs. A group in Bothell meets once a month at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church. The “Celebrate Recovery” group at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond has an excellent program. They meet every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. About 125 citizens attend their meetings.
One in five Americans have a mental health condition and only half are treated. Please tell your friends and neighbors about the recovery programs available in our community and celebrate your friends and neighbors who have recovered!