I Can’t Get No Satisfactory Mental Health Care!
The Urgent Need for Advocacy and Reform in Mental Health Care Series (Part I)
After twenty plus years of being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, I’m still struggling to find a psychologist or therapist to competently treat my BPD. I do want to acknowledge that the fact that my middle-class, white privilege has given me access to mental health services. I’m also aware that I’ve been fortunate to have been covered under ‘average’ health insurance plans.
I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology and I’ve participated in hundreds of hours of training on mental illness and suicide prevention as a crisis hotline volunteer. Further, I’m a voracious reader with an above-average IQ and I have a plethora of experience researching academic journals. And I do not mean for any of this to sound boastful, but I’m using my background to drive home a prolific point. Even with my education, experience, and advantages, I cannot secure adequate care to manage my mental illness.
Originally I was diagnosed by an excellent psychiatrist, but I’ll save the play-by-play of my spotty treatment history for a later date. About nine months ago, I decided to go back to therapy because some of my BPD symptoms- specifically my anxiety and feelings of emptiness- had exasperated. Thus, I began researching psychologists and therapists in my area, hoping to find some specializing in personality disorders. (I will mention that I live in a city of about 220,000 people with a decent number of counseling/ mental health practices).
I found one private practice therapist that actually had experience treating borderlines. She took me on admitting she could only squeeze me in two times per month. But ultimately she was too full to accommodate me and had to cancel several times. To her credit, she was transparent about her situation and gave me a referral to a larger practice which offers an umbrella of therapeutic services. On paper, the organization appears grounded in best practices in psychology and seems client centered.
Fast-forward nine months-and two therapists- later, and my anxiety and splitting behaviors are status quo. I’m making no progress. I’ve voiced my concerns that mental health care needs are not being helped nor treated. But every place, person, or referral I’ve been given to contact for additional support is a dead-end.
I adamantly believe that mental health care in the US needs a dramatic reform. I’m not sure where to start, but I’m determined to find effective ways to advocate for this cause. I will continue this series of posts with the goal of catapulting results-based changes.