It has been a long time since I have written on the vine so scuse me if I am rusty. Those who know me on the vine know that I have long been a proponent of society's social nets, or so called entitlements programs. I think they help many people overcome insurmountable challenges faced in life. I also am a pragmatist in my realizations that these program are abused by people who's challenge are anything but insurmountable.
I have never been one that suggested these programs shouldnt exist. But I have long said we need to change how they work. Where I am coming from:
I am a psychiatrist. I see adults and children. For the most part the people I treat are genuinely in need of help. But on occasion I get a call from a parent who tells me their child is a Tasmanian devil and needs that "bipolar test" or "adhd" test. The child comes in and instead of a Tasmanian devil you see a tweety bird (i love cartoons). You call the school, grandparents anyone who knows the kid looking for that Tasmanian devil, but all info points to this kid being a tweety bird. Befuddled you say I dont see anything, but I believe you. Let's start with not labeling this, schedule you with a therapist, and get to know the kid to see if we can be helpful. The parent smiles and thanks you, but has the look of disappointment. She takes the appointment and leaves. I walk back to my office I check the fax machine and there it is. A letter from the disability lawyer requesting records for an eval of the kid I just saw. Was this tremendous foresight of the parent or where we here with an ulterior motive?
I see some sick kids. Mental illness has a devastating effect on families that I am in no way trying to make light of. Community resources are scarce and near impossible to get if they even exist. Parents can be faced with huge associated expenses with caring for a loved one with mental illness. They may need help, they should get it.
However, I dont think it should come in the form of a monthly check. I think it should go directly to those expenses related to services consumed. Much like food-stamps can only be used for food. Maybe like flexspending accounts for care related costs.
I dont know exactly how to fix this without being punitive to those who need it. But I do know that there has to be a better way.