Author Archives: SandraJane

Separation of Church and Psychology

Separation of church and psychology may seem like a strange topic, but considering recent developments in the state of Texas, it is a topic that must be addressed.

The governor of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, has decided to let the church dictate his views on mental health. The particular church using its influence in this way is Scientology.

Remember the Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields Debacle?

As many may already know, Scientology does not believe mental illness exists. This particular tenet of their faith became well known when Tom Cruise criticized Brooke Shields in 2005, for saying she had suffered from postpartum depression and had taken medication for her illness. Tom Cruise insulted her and caused quite a stir.

You can read about that argument at Today.com.

10 Years Later… cropped-helping-hand512.png

Meanwhile, fast forward to 2015, and dare to believe that we have a governor in the United States of America, who does not believe in mental illness or mental health treatments because a religious group has deemed it to be so.

This is all the proof one needs that religion should never be allowed to debate with science. It is ridiculous.

The particular bill that was vetoed in Florida would have allowed mental health intervention for those whom were deemed dangerous to themselves or to others, a much needed intervention that is needed all over this country.

I sense that many will disagree with this need, so please allow me to present a tiny piece of my argument for mental health intervention.

 

Could an intervention have helped in Arizona?

Gabby Giffords, then the congresswoman from Arizona, was shot in 2011 by a young man who needed an intervention. Instructors at the local college reported having arguments with him, people who had contact with him said he spoken of strange things and said he heard voices in his head. You can read about these findings at CBS News.

Our hands are tied.

You may or may not be aware that you cannot have someone like this arrested or committed until they commit an act warranting such action. This is a travesty of justice not only for potential victims of the mentally ill, but for the mentally ill themselves, who are also victims. People do not choose to be mentally ill. 

Are Interventions Safe?

I agree that it is scary to think that someone could potentially report you as being mentally ill and then have the state government send a big white van to carry you away in a white straight-jacket.

This fear exists based on how things were done many decades ago. It would not have to be such a harrowing experience today, unless the person being committed was physically unmanageable – an assessment that should only be made by a licensed psychologist that is sent to pick up the potentially violent patient.

There are many safeguards that could be put in place today. A person’s medical records could be pulled, including a list of medications prescribed as well as taken (not all prescriptions get filled). The individual could also be run through the police database to see what, if any, violations and arrests might appear.

Here’s the bottom line – I would rather take the chance on an intervention. If the reports are accurate and the person in question is mentally ill, who knows how many lives may be saved by the intervention.

If the person is determined to be in good mental health, and a hoax was perpetrated against them, then the “hoaxter” should be arrested and prosecuted.

I find it more frightful to imagine an innocent person being shot down while in a movie theater, at a political rally, while shopping in a mall or while sitting in a classroom.

 

How do we stop churches from interfering with the safety of the public?

Under no conditions anywhere in this land of the free, should a church be allowed to have such an influence over a governor or any members of legislature or government at any level.

Any person advocating a denial of verifiable, evidence based science at the legislative level is putting their constituents at risk of violence perpetrated by a person needing medical attention and should be dismissed from their public service position immediately. 

The mental health issue revolving around Governor Abbott of Texas is alarming, but that is not the only strange position he has taken on important issues. Read more about this and Greg Abbot at the Greenville Gazette.

 

 

Shelter for Students – Joe’s Place

My last post was about a shelter for students in a school district in Missouri. Today I discovered another one in Missouri, Joe’s Place. In fact, this was the inspiration for the Hope House.

These students are improving their grades, improving their attendance rates and some of them are going on to college after high school graduation.

This is a program that should be implemented all over this country.

If we truly care about our children, especially those that are living in poverty and unstable environments, and those that have been living in foster care, then we need to show them that we care by providing these shelter homes where they are able to thrive.

When family structures fail, we should be willing to come in and save the day.

That’s the America I want the world to see.

That’s the America I want children to experience.

That’s the community of America I want to see among people across this nation.

Let’s give everyone an equal opportunity regardless of how they ended up in their current situation. Poverty is not a choice. Poverty takes years to overcome and it can rarely be overcome without the help of our citizens that are able and willing to help. It costs so little to make this happen.

 

Joe’s Place is one of the only public school district programs in the country to provide a home for students who are either homeless or struggling in their current living situation. This year, a school district less than 20 miles away in Jennings, Missouri, started a similar version of Joe’s Place — but for girls. The Jennings School District Hope House opened around Thanksgiving.

 

The homes provide house parents who oversee everything and provide a disciplined schedule and stable routine. Many of these teens have not experienced this before.

One of them, who is now in college, returns to visit.

“I wouldn’t say it was a culture shock, but it was something in that area. There was dinner every night, there was a disciplined schedule — which was something I never had,” said Pinnell. “Eventually, I got really comfortable there and started calling it home not too far into the semester. It doesn’t take too long for someone to fall in love with Joe’s.”

Let’s spread the word and make a real difference in the lives of our young people!

 

Read the full article at HuffPost Politics.

 

Providing Shelter for Students

Many people feel that public schools should not be involved in helping students medically, whether that be physical or mental health. However, my argument to this statement is that if no one else is helping them, then who better to determine what help they need than the people who see them daily and know more about them than possibly their own parents do in some cases.

Teachers and other school staff have a bird’s eye view of these students 5 out of 7 days, 9 months a year or more.

I am happy to report that I am not the only one who feels this way.

A school district in Missouri has taken on the challenge and responsibility of helping children and their families, thanks to Superintendent Tiffany Anderson.

She is having excellent results.

 

“Schools can do so much to really impact poverty,” Anderson said. “Some people think if you do all this other stuff, it takes away from focusing on instruction, when really it ensures that you can take kids further academically.”

The district also opened Hope House, a shelter providing students a stable living environment. Many of thee students would be homeless; some of them are former foster kids; all of them are doing better now, thanks to Hope House.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“One-quarter of Jennings’ residents are living below the federal poverty line,according to 2014 Census Bureau data. The median household income is $28,429. Just 13 percent of those age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, half of the state average.

Yet: In 2015, 92 percent of high school students graduated on time, and 78 percent of those graduates had enrolled in the military or post-secondary training within six months of graduation, according to state data. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) invited Anderson and a student to his state of the state address this year, praising Jennings for its “big leaps forward.”

 

Read the full story at The Washington Post.