Mental Wellness Column by Judge Dennis Maes of Pueblo, CO.

DennisMaes

In the past I have been asked to share my experiences with the onset of depression and subsequent experiences. Suffice to say, I still suffer from depression but with the help of my family, friends and constant companion Prozac I am able to lead a very fulfilling life. Therefore, allow me to share other observations throughout the years in this journey.

While much progress has been made in removing the stigma attached to behavioral health issues and treatment, there continues to be a need for a vast amount of advocacy and education to ensure that no one is deprived of support because of a feeling of shame. It is imperative that treatment for mental health issues continue to receive the same attention as that given to primary health concerns. Included in the equation is the role of the primary care provider’s recognition of mental health concerns when visiting with patients for other medical reasons with referral for treatment when appropriate. Of significant importance is for the insurance industry to understand the depths of the illness and remove any barriers to treatment by limiting access to care until approved by a medical provider.

We now know through experience that school aged children will access school based mental health services if available. It is, therefore, imperative that a funding stream be provided to the schools to deliver the services. While treatment of adults with mental health issues was largely neglected until recently, the response to child mental health issues has been abysmal. Many children are the victims of trauma at the earliest stages of their development which is only exacerbated throughout the years unless treated. Children have an especially difficult time learning when the very organ, the brain, is not properly functioning. We owe it to our children to provide them with the best learning environment possible including the removal of those obstacles that prevent their ability to learn.

We must continue to educate and advocate for those who struggle with mental health issues. It is especially important for those of us who have firsthand knowledge of the illness to serve as examples and role models that a productive and rewarding life can be achieved through the help of our loved ones and treatment.

To learn more about Spark the Change Colorado’s Mental Wellness Program, Visit Our Website.

Pueblo Mental Wellness Program, 719-281-3774, BNufer@SparktheChangeColorado.org

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