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I got mad last week.

March 18, 2024

A friend of mine called me for help. A relative had been released from a state mental institution where he was for most of 15 years. He was released without a follow up care plan and without his psych meds. My friend was trying to get his meds and ended up paying out of pocket.

Let me say first of all, that every person I talked with really trying to help and I recognized the restrictions of the system so I am not putting blame on a person at all.

I called Behavioral Health and asked what needed to be done. And they said that they should come there and get signed up for care. They went and were told that he needed MediCal first and were referred to Human Service Agency. The process got started but usually takes several days to weeks. Weekend was approaching and they still did not have his medication. I called Behavioral Health again and the person was trying hard to find a solution only to refer me to the Crisis line who told me that they could not help. I spoke with Parole and they did not have answers either. I called several agencies but it was late Friday afternoon and most had only answering machines on. When they talked about a visit to the ER, the person was terrified because they last time he went to an ER he was institutionalized.

BUT, I was mad. Mad that the state institution would release a person without meds. Mad that there is no pathway to get emergency medication.

We spend millions of dollars trying to help people not be homeless, not commit crimes, not fall through the cracks of mental health-- and yet this big system failed this person. We often create systems that become a nightmare for the people who actually should be served by them.

Caring means that backup systems are in place and out of the box thinking comes into play. Caring means that we see the person as a human being and not just a number. Caring means that we take the extra steps to help a person who will otherwise fall through the cracks. Caring means that we support people who are trying hard to do the right thing. Caring means, that we as neighbors walk with a person who is struggling, because that is what human beings do. We don't know the person's life story, but we know that as community members we can help.

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