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April 22, 2007

The Struggles to Get Help for a Bipolar Son in College

The recent events at Virginia Tech have gotten many groups putting more of a look into the difficulty of getting good mental health treatments in the US. The issue of how difficult it is to get help for many people who suffer from bipolar disorder is covered in this recent NPR interview with the noted author Pete Early.

In the interview he mentions:

"the real tragedy here is why aren't people getting help. Fairfax County, again where Cho is from, it's the wealthiest county in Virginia. It's one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. There's a two-month wait to get mental health services, in Fairfax County, a six-month wait to get a case manager. You know, that's despicable."

NPR: "But how did they get to be that way? I mean, all over the country, there are these big buildings that used to be mental hospitals."

MR. EARLEY: "And they're all closing down. We have been closing down these huge asylums because they were horrible places, but mainly because of money. The state shut them down overnight with the institutionalization, as soon as the federal government said we'll start taking care of people through social security, through federal payment, people with mental illnesses.

And overnight there is no place for them to go. Where are they gone? They've gone to our jails and prisons. There are 300,000 people right now in jail and prisons with bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and major depression. Third, HMOs. Since 1997, two-thirds of HMOs are profit-driven. Psychiatric beds are not profitable, so they've done away with them."

You can listen to the entire interview with Pete at the following link:

Listen to the Full Story: Author Pete Earley talks about his struggles to get help for his son


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