A diverse crowd packed Work/Release in Norfolk’s Neon District Thursday evening to listen, learn, and speak about a subject that is all too often only whispered about. “A Forum on Mental Health Care and Stigma” was the first of a series of planned events to bring this health care issue out of the shadows.
The many conditions that fall under the “mental health” umbrella affect at least one-in-four of us. It’s about damn time we start talking about it.
Thursday night was a great start. The compassion and connection in that room was real. But as much as we need to help each other, we also need a health care system that doesn’t further stigmatize us with inadequate care, bureaucratic hurdles, and fees that make services impossible for many in our community. We need to join our voices and make a righteous noise to advocate on our own behalf and on the behalf of those who currently can’t because they are in too dark a place.
There are several bills before the Virginia General Assembly that require our attention.
Here’s a summary:
– HB 1777 would require hospitals that provide inpatient psychiatric care to coordinate with the referring provider before denying services.
UPDATE: This bill passed the House uncontested, so please focus your efforts on the Senate.
– HB 2042 would require suicide prevention continuing education for doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, chiropractors – basically anyone working in the medical field.
UPDATE: This bill was tabled, essentially killing the bill for now.
– HB 2258 would create a suicide task force to raise public awareness, which is something that was on a lot of people’s minds and hearts at the forum.
UPDATE: This bill is still in committee. Reach out to all your elected officials!
Please take a few minutes to call your legislators. Don’t know who they are or how to get their numbers? Here’s how you find out. Go here: “Who’s My Legislator,” and that will take you directly to a screen where you enter your address. Once you do that, the name, phone numbers, and email links for your state delegate, state senator, U.S. Congressperson, and U.S. Senators pop up. It couldn’t be easier.
We had a chance to talk and share our pain and our stories. We need to do more of that. But we also need to act. Here’s our chance.
To stay involved with this issue, join this group: Norfolk Mental Health Care Resource & Support Network.