Mental Health Care in Nebraska

Nebraska has attracted some incredible talent in the field of mental health; people who understand the illnesses, who understand the effects on families, and who understand the need for the state to change and to move into a new realm of healing opportunity. Rather than embracing their knowledge and leadership; however, we often appear to dig into our comfort zone ignoring wonderful opportunities to make Nebraska a health leader in the nation.  

Nebraska continually ranks close to the bottom in the provision of mental health care. We seem to lack the political will to develop community-based treatment centers that have proven so effective in other states. We seem to lack the motivation to invest in additional healing opportunities for children. We seem to believe that short-term residential treatment is ineffective, yet we are persuaded to enlarge the prison system.

We are told repeatedly that there is no health without mental health, and this we strongly believe, yet we continue to penalize the very people who try to help us reach a higher level of care, a more effective system of care, a more honest approach to resiliency and recovery in this 21st century.

We are a comparatively small state population wise, so it seems that we could work together more effectively and efficiently to provide mental health care for the one in four people needing it. We could help children learn to manage their behavioral issues sooner, sparing them from expulsion from pre-schools and primary grades. Our adolescents have a high suicide rate and the increase in STIs in Nebraska reflects emotional and physical challenges. Our young military families need encouraging support; and what about the increases in the rate of depression in our older population?   

We have people in Nebraska who are willing to address these issues, and have excellent suggestions for moving us into a healthier, more pro-active, more productive plan of mental health care.  Yet, we seem more focused on what we do wrong, rather than supporting one another in what we can do right. How can Nebraska increase community partnerships and together build toward a meaningful plan for mental health care that will address the needs of children and youth, our college age and our young military families, our working age people, and our honored citizens?

 We’d like to hear from our readers. What are we doing right in Nebraska in the provision of mental health care? What programs have motivated you to change your thinking and be open to supporting new ideas?  What do you see as our strengths and assets, and most importantly, what is your vision for a healthier Nebraska? 

The Kim Foundation applauds the development of peer support programs. We welcomed Director Reckling’s attempts to move foster children back into their homes as quickly and safely as possible and we feel encouraged by the research programs underway at Creighton and UNMC. Readers, if you could wave your magic wand, how would you help Nebraska move up to at least be in the top 50 percent of states in the provision of mental health care?

Warm Wishes for Dr. Daniel Wilson
It is bittersweet to learn that Dr. Daniel Wilson, chair of psychiatry at Creighton University has been named vice president and medical dean at the University of Florida Health Science Center-Jacksonville.

Dr. Wilson brought innovative and practical knowledge to the field of mental health care in Nebraska these past 11 years and has been a trusted and valued voice for change in the provision of mental health care.

Florida is a state that has made excellent progress in mental health care in the last 10 years and with Dr. Wilson joining them, we know their future will be even more positive.

Thank you for what you have done in Nebraska, Dr. Wilson. We wish you the best!

World Mental Health Day Remembrance
The director of Nebraska’s Office of Consumer Affairs, Carol Coussons de Reyes, asks Nebraskans to join in a moment of silence on World Mental Health Day, October 10, in remembrance of people with mental illnesses who languished in ‘mental hospitals’ then were buried in unmarked and unremembered graves. Carol asks that, as a community, we join at 10:10 A.M. on October 10to remember those who were denied the opportunity for resiliency and recovery. It seems the least we can do! 

Thanks to Carol and to Dan Powers for reminding us that many paid a huge price in order for us to celebrate the mental health care we do have available today. Let us take a moment of respect and appreciation, and rededicate our efforts to even more meaningful progress in weeks to come.

 

Diana Waggoner, Director, The Kim Foundation

Diana Waggoner is the Director of The Kim Foundation. Connecting people to resources is central to The Kim Foundation’s mission of improving lives through mental health. Through its work, The Kim Foundation serves to bridge the gaps in mental health services and further encourages innovation that will enhance programs, expand services, strengthen organizational systems, and most importantly, transform lives.