Mental Health Services & Equal Access

According to a Willamette Week Article printed on October 17th, 2022 Oregon is ranks worst in the Nation for prevalence of mental illness” https://www.wweek.com/news/courts/2022/10/17/oregon-ranks-worst-in-nation-for-prevalence-of-mental-illness/ This article goes on to discuss why Oregon is ranked near last in mental illness and the lack of access to mental health services.

You would think that of all the medical specialties there are, Mental Health Services is the one specialty that everyone would have equal access to right?

Well, there is equal access to a point, there is equal access to basic mental health services, but thats where the Equal access ends. If you need specialized help, well that is hit or miss depending on where you are. My experience from when we lived up in the Portland Metro area was that We could get Rob into basic mental health services, however there were only 2 clinics that accepted his Medicaid, One was the county clinic which I wasn’t sure if I trusted them or not, had no appointments for intake just show up whenever, and the other clinic was a clinic with offices throughout the Portland Metro area, that is the one we went with, there was an office close by in Gladstone, upon seeing they had multiple offices throughout the Portland Metro area, I had thought that there would be a specialist within the network somewhere that dealt with Trauma and traumatic injuries. LOL yeah right, according to the receptionist there, everyone has experience working with trauma and trauma survivors, smh not what I asked. but Rob needed help and this is all we had.

And then there are the specialized clinics and facilities, some take Medicaid and most don’t due to low reimbursement rates, which is a bad thing for those who need specialized help, this is where the disparity comes in. Those with private insurance or Medicare get more opportunity for specialized help than those on Medicaid get, and even if the clinic takes Medicaid, they only take a certain number of Medicaid recipients, therefore the waitlist can be quite lengthy and does absolutely no good for the patient requiring specialty care.

This is the problem I ran into so many times while looking for a Therapist that specialized in Trauma, every time I tried to find one, I was either told “all counselors have experience with trauma,” Or it was “We don’t take Medicaid” or “We are not accepting any new Medicaid patients right now”, It was so frustrating, and during the time Rob was a patient at the clinic in Gladstone, i had asked repeatedly for Rob to see a Psychiatrist, and every time it was “The Psychiatrist isn’t taking any new Medicaid Patients right now,”, Every time I asked if he could be put on the waitlist, only to be told, “The waitlist is closed”.

The Lack of a Psychiatrist is one thing that went against Rob with Social Security Disability, even though He had told the Judge at the hearing that we has been continuously denied the opportunity to see a Psychiatrist, it didn’t matter.

And people wonder why we have such a mental health crisis in this country.

When we finally moved down here to the Coast, I had hopes of finding Rob something better than what he had up in Portland,, after a couple of years of counseling sessions that really did no real good for him I decided to try again, we had been here 2 years, and a new counseling center had opened up, so I decided to give it a try, First I called the County Clinic, what a absolute Shit Show that is, The Tillamook County Health Center will not accept you as a patient for the Behavioral Services Program unless You have all your care there, smh I asked the Gal to repeat herself and she said it again, she also apologized that it was that way. and to try the new clinic in town.

So I called the New Clinic and Wow! What a amazing place, I was able to get Rob signed up as a patient over the phone, I asked if they had a therapist that deals with Traumatic Injuries and they said YES! and made a note on his intake paperwork to screen for Trauma.

The Day of his intake appointment the therapist that was trained in trauma actually did the intake interview and actually told Rob and I that he was taking our case himself since it was a Traumatic Injury case.

It will be a year in April that he has been going to this counselor, and Rob is finally starting to open up to him, It has taken a lot though to get him to trust this Counselor, And the best part is, this counselor is working with BOTH of us, He talks to me as well ,asks how I am doing, what am I seeing in Rob, what do I think about how he is doing.

Like I told the Counselor here a few weeks ago, It has taken me 5 years to find the right therapist for Rob, and its been a uphill battle all the way, But i finally did it. He even sees a Psychiatrist now and has his mental health meds managed by her. We have come so far, but we haven’t really, we should be further ahead in Robs Progress but we aren’t.

We are coming up on 8 years since his accident, 6 years since he was forced to quit workingt much better than it was towards the end of 2017., and so much has changed in our lives, and yet, his mental health is not that much better than it was at the end of 2017, weve made some progress, nut not as much as if he had been allowed the help he is getting now. I feel as though that 5 years that he was refused the help he needed, cost him more than anyone will ever know, simply because that is 5 years of progress we will never get back.

This post is my thoughts and opinions as well as Our Experiences in the TBI world and in trying to get the right kind of Mental Health Services. Your experiences might be different from ours, your state Medicaid program might be better or worst than ours.

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