Ballots, Choices, and Stickers

     If you live in The United States and were old enough to vote, you may have felt like your ballot options, or lack thereof in some spots, may not have been good. Hold on to that feeling for a moment. Parents, spouses, caregivers, and individuals often experience this trying to find appropriate mental health services and treatment for loved ones. 

     There is very little actually available for most between acute hospitalization and sporadic outpatient services. Although there are some great programs, not everyone gets accepted-receiving help appears more competitive than applying for college. In many cases, it is more expensive. Not everyone has the extra 10 percent of gross income up to excess of $8000 PER month to pay. Many states, counties, schools, or other possible funding sources only work with the cheapest option, ones they have contracted with, or none at all. As everyone has different needs, this obviously leaves many folks in the dark. 

     Now, if you voted in a county like mine, that did not provide those coveted “I Voted” stickers, you probably felt a bit jipped. Fortunately, my polling place gave us stubs that we could still use at local places for things like free donuts or coffee. However, folks who really went for the freebies or sticker and got neither were disappointed. This is another common feeling for those trying to get appropriate treatment and help. 

     Imagine paying thousands you cannot afford in hopes to help your child who experienced significant trauma then seeing little to no progress from one of the very limited programs you could access. There is a multitude of families, not limited to the U.S., who sacrifice much and receive little visible results from programs they trusted to help. 

     Moving on to add insult to injury, let’s say that your friends, relatives, and random folks decide to hold you personally responsible for any mistakes made by the candidates for whom you voted. This is exactly what happens daily to people who get blamed for not being able to “fix” their loved one with the limited resources currently available. 

     Please be thankful that you only deal with these frustrations at election time. For many, it is a daily struggle that takes its toll on the entire family. 

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Photos Speak Volumes

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This is a picture of currently available mental health and crisis services for people in many states. Some pieces are broken and smashed to dust. Others are completely missing. They no longer all connect, but only by the grace of God, some light still gets through.

This is also a picture of currently available mental health and crisis services for people in many states. It is an actual vehicle windshield that has been kicked by a child.  A child who was sent home less than 24 hours prior to the damage from an ER crisis assessment by a contractual worker in which the parent was dismissed and armed with only a paper behavior contract and a referral to the worker’s employer for outpatient counseling. Nevermind that the parent had clearly stated the child’s history of trauma, past failed attempts at outpatient, and other clinical issues. Nevermind that the child had been so distraught and out of control (mental health and grief issues not discipline issues) that a handful of police officers physically had to carry the child to assist in de-escalation and transportation to the ER. The worker indicated that risk to harm self or others was no longer enough for the child to be hospitalized in order to become stable and transitioning to appropriate treatment. He would have to state that he wanted to kill himself or someone else. Jumping out of a moving car would not be enough intent to harm self unless he stated he was trying to kill himself, and throwing objects at someone or grabbing a steering wheel was not intent to harm others unless he would specifically state he was trying to kill them. 

This is where it got worse:  the contractual crisis worker was fixated on whether or not the parent would profess some type of refusal to take the child back home with only the outpatient referral and behavior contract. The worker told the child, who already had residual attachment and trauma issues from time stuck in the child welfare system (from which the child was already rescued and adopted,) that if he did not go home he would be placed back in foster care. That is absolutely unacceptable as “mental health treatment” or treatment of another human being. Period. The crisis assessment actual made a bad situation even worse and more dangerous. Consequently, the child became extremely upset later but refused to see a counselor for fear he would never see his adoptive family again if he had to be hospitalized. This is how the windshield fared in that conversation… 

Unfortunately, this is not at all an uncommon scenario among families in which a child is unable to access appropriate mental services. Youth who have a history of trauama or attachment issues fall inot this category. It appears that the percentage of children with significant residual mental health issues that have been in foster and adoption services is much higher than actually reported. 

About Light for the Broken Road

Light for the Broken Road aims to provide encouragement, resources, and information for parents/caregivers/families of those dealing with trauma and attachment issues, mental health disorders, and relevant topics.

As many are realizing not just within the United States but around the world, there is a disconnect between the reality of these issues and what the general population and even some professionals believe. Significant trauma and attachment issues appear to be prevalent in the foster and adopted poulations. They also seem more common than once realized among other children within public schools and other common settings. Trauma can impact ANYONE. As one peels the onion layers of issues like substance abuse, it is often at the root. It may also play a part in the development of mental illness. There even appear to be correlations between some untreated trauma and domestic violence and other crimes.

Unfortunately, if access to appropriate mental health services is sparse, it is even more so for post-adopt families and biological families trying to prevent their children from landing in the criminal justice system or worse.

In the near future, I would like to publish some anonymous letters from families (written so that they cannot be identified) regarding what does and does not work with suggestions for improving systems. 

Light sometimes shows us a clearer path, and other times it illuminates problems so that we may seek solutions.
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