Wednesday, October 27, 2010

State Rep. John Mayo on Mental Health Services for Children

Below is a message Mims received from State Rep. John Mayo (House District 25) on the subject of mental health services for children in our state. I wanted to give you a chance to read it before I post Mims' excellent response.

God, please help us, to help those, who cannot help themselves.

Imagine, you are welcoming into this world your very first child (or your last or middle). You count all the fingers, toes, eyes, ears, you get the required tests...How wonderful can it be? All is normal...you even think perfect.

At three, you begin noticing little things going wrong with your child's behavior, at four your child is actually rebellious, sometimes injuring himself. At five you seek help, at six you begin drug therapy, at seven you begin the long fight with the school system, doctors, psychologists. People think your perfect child from God has just stepped out of hell.

She's passed off from one teacher to another, one doctor after another tells you he'll grow out of it. A psychiatrist tells you to give the new prescription time to work. Meanwhile, your child has been suspended from fifth grade or had trips to the hospital for 53 days. You've taken off work because you can't find a sitter to be at home with her and he cannot be left alone at 15 because he might burn the house down.

You've now lost your job because your daughter has been shunned, passed over, kicked out of every store he's ever been in. You don't know what to do. You cry every night because your son has no social life, no sleepovers, no invitations to birthday parties, no friends; or, everyone is afraid of or bullying your daughter.

I've been a lot of places and heard a lot of things over the last 11 years, but I have not been impacted like I was this morning as six parents and a grandparent told a group of people looking to reform mental health services to children at a forum in Jackson.

Sen. Hob Bryan and Rep. Steve Holland, chairs of their respective chamber's health committees hosted the event along with the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and the Interagency Coordinating Council for Children and Youth.

I spotted one other legislator in the audience, chair of House Education Committee Cecil Brown.

The parents and psychologists spoke of the lack of coordination between the delivers of mental health services, schools, and doctors. Parents were particularly hard on doctors who like to prescribe drugs, but have absolutely no knowledge of outreach organizations, support groups, or counseling treatment.

They were hard on the schools where they said teachers refuse to take certain students or shunt them off as soon as they walk into the classroom, and they had particular disdain for psychologists who have their formulas for treatment and do not hear what the parents want or need to help them cope with their children.

The bottom line purpose of the meeting was find ways to coordinate these services and disseminate information to caregivers and teachers in order to serve the nearly 80,000 Mississippi children who are in need of mental health services.

"I don't want my child to go to jail," said one Mother through her tears. "But, that is where he is headed. I need help. He needs help. He's a good boy. He is a loving boy. I don't want my boy to go to jail. I just do not know what to do."

Feel lucky if the only problem you have with your daughter is she can't find the right prom dress.

There are some people with some very heavy problems out there, people.

We need to find ways to do God's work and help them.

###

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hard for Atheists to Get Excited About Politics in Mississippi

It sounds like most of the action in Mississippi politics is happening in the Northern part of our state this election. Former President Clinton was in Oxford to encourage support for Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS). Meanwhile, I haven't heard much locally about Rep. Gene Taylor's (D-MS) race. I'm honestly not sure if that is because the Democratic Party thinks he will win easily or because they don't find his conservative politics worth supporting. Personally, I find it hard to get too excited about Taylor now that I have taken a look at his voting record.

I wonder if Mississippi's atheists will ever have the opportunity to vote for a candidate who doesn't broadcast his or her Christian beliefs? It doesn't seem too likely when even the candidates for judge seem to campaign by telling us which Baptist church they attend.

I wish we could play offense in the political arena once in awhile instead of always feeling like we have to have a defensive stance. We have to work so hard to preserve the shaky status quo of church-state separation that we never seem to have the chance to make progress on the issue.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Planning to Stick Around

It wasn't too long ago that I posted some thoughts about the future of this blog and whether there would be one. Since then, the amount of time I've had to post has declined. In fact, I feel like the amount of time I've had to do anything besides work has declined lately! But the thing is, I think it is important that we stick around in one form or another. So I am going to try to do that.

Even if we are minimally active in the frequency with which we post, and even if I need to prune some co-authors who haven't contributed in more than a year, I think it is worth trying to stick around. Contrary to popular belief, there are atheists in Mississippi. We don't have to be particularly active to remind people of that, and I am coming to realize that this alone is worth doing. Besides, it is just a matter of time until others with more time and energy than I have decide to promote atheism in Mississippi.

So I plan to keep this blog going a bit longer. I won't be posting nearly as often as I once did, but that is okay. We will still be here for those who need to be reminded that they are not alone, even in Mississippi.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Defending Contraception and Reproductive Rights in Mississippi

Another post from PK ATHEIST

I appreciate the warm greetings from you that I received with my first post and the additional post about the issue of "coming out" fully or not.

I've been thinking a lot about birth control lately given that there is said to be a push on by the Republicans to fight cheaper birth control in the new health care bill. I hope that all of us will fight to keep birth control (and abortion) legal and available for all. I realize that there will be people of varying political opinions in this group of Mississippi atheists, but only the most backwards of religions are against birth control and abortion rights and I think we all need to stress that at every given opportunity. Even here in Mississippi. Even members of those backwards and woman-hating religions often choose to use birth control and abortion for themselves, but by funding church donations they don't fight for the right for others to have the same choice. Perhaps we should remind them when we can?

personhoodRecently, I reread the part of Bertrand Russell's autobiography in which he described his efforts to get birth control in the 1890s. He said that in his early married days in (at least his part of) England even the Protestants were negative about it like the Roman Catholics are still now. I cannot help but think how much misery has gone on for years with this anti-birth control and anti-abortion attitude. The U.S. Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut and its provision of rights for birth control for those who are married was as recent as 1965. I think more people need to be reminded that they can and may lose their choice about how many children to have -- or whether to have children at all -- if the forces of fundamentalism and Roman Catholicism have their way as too many Mississippi politicians want them to do. 20% of the population has chosen not to have children for reasons of choice or economic necessity, yet that right of choice may be taken away by the very ones who will not finance any help for the poor. Mississippi's governor is a good example of one who will do nothing for the poor or unemployed.

When I first read Bertrand Russell's, "Why I am Not a Christian," I thought it should have been more accurately entitled, "Why I Am Not a Catholic" since the criticisms to me at the time of that reading did not apply to the more liberal Protestant denominations or the more liberal Jews. I wonder if I will think that on reread as fewer seem to be speaking up against the extremism. When I first read the book I thought that the more liberal denominations were doing enough good to be needed.

Like most people who are aware of their ancestors at all, I know that I lost more than one great-great-great + grandmother to death in childbirth.

The proposed "personhood" amendment for fetuses in Mississippi would potentially endanger even one's right to the Pill. I trust those of us who are concerned are following this closely and trying to fight it.

It seems to me that birth control and abortion rights are getting to be too much on the back burner in even so-called progressive organizations. This post is meant as a call and reminder for us all to wake up and see if we can stop the unnecessary misery that is coming otherwise if we snooze.

I was angry when I heard the head of a Mississippi soup kitchen saying that the problem in Mississippi was lack of education. The problem in Mississippi is those who cannot afford children are having them and their choices in that respect are shrinking even as jobs vanish even for those without encumbrances.

--PK ATHEIST IN SOUTH MISSISSIPPI

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