By state Supreme Court order, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Department of Social and Health Services recently responded to untreated mentally ill patients. Medicaid beds can now be allotted to halt psychiatric boarding in hospital hallways.
It is mandatory that ill patients receive care. Hopefully, we no longer stigmatize such individuals. In times past they were labeled as crazy or lunatics. They spent long years or a lifetime in asylums.
Today there is understanding of our brain structure and brain diseases, such as bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's and dementia. We have studied the brain and its chemistry. We've heard of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc. Such neurotransmitters relay information between brain cells. They regulate mood.
We realize that stress, drugs, diseases, grief, etc., can cause chemical imbalance. Depression, the most widespread mental disorder, affects about 20 percent of our population at any given time. Depression can alter brain chemical production, which can alter normal thinking and behavior. Suicidal thoughts may arise.
There is help. Psychologists can provide counseling and prescription medicines. Anti-depressants are available.
Some victims experience "episodes" of illness when stressful situations occur. Perhaps there's a biological predisposition or a lack of nurturance in childhood. Episodes can be treated and the patient returned to normalcy. It requires professional help.
Mental illness cannot be seen on the outside like a broken arm or flu. There is, however, great inward pain. Providers can treat and control such suffering. Support the mentally ill by showing compassion and understanding. Encourage government funding and private donation to a mental health fund.