A struggle pushed aside

By Emily Arentzen
December 2, 2013

Two weeks ago, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed by his son “Gus” moments before his son took his own life. The stabbing occurred shortly after Gus was evaluated by mental health professionals due to his compromised mental state. The only issue was that even though it was determined that Gus needed psychiatric help, he was not given the proper care because hospitals claimed that there was not enough beds to take in another psychiatric patient.

Hours prior to attacking his father, Gus Deeds became the subject of an emergency custody order, but was released home due to lack of space for such a patient. According to Virginia state law, an emergency custody order is issued when “ any responsible person, treating physician, or upon his own motion, an emergency custody order when he has probable cause to believe that any person (i) has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information.”

Gus Deeds was the subject of an emergency custody order, but was still granted a release to his home simply because they had no place to put him. What this says about the state of mental health care is that it is not doing enough. The law clearly states that this type of order will only be issued if the issuing person responsible believes the person in question has the potential to inflict harm to themselves or others. The mere fact that he was able to walk away after such a declaration was made is astounding.

Mental health is often put on the back-burner to other forms of personal health. When it comes to insurance, companies will only cover so much mental health care before it starts costing the patients and their families immense amounts of charges just to get help. The truth of the matter is that mental health is not something to ignore.

Mental illness can come in many different forms, but no one less important than another. Some of the most common forms of mental illness are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. While many people may have certain tendencies that they believe can be related to one of the many mental illnesses known to psychiatrists, it is not technically a disorder until it becomes disruptive to that person’s life, according to “Psychology in Everyday Life” by David Myers.

Gus Deeds is not alone. In the last few years, our country has unfortunately seen its share of terrible tragedies. Horrific events such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado to virtually any school shooting can be traced back to poor mental health care. These people were not of sound mind and did not receive or possibly partake in the suggested treatment.

Something needs to be done in order to help relieve these people from their daily pain of anxiety, feelings of depression, obsessive compulsive tendencies and any other form of mental illness that causes someone to live anything less than a full and healthy life. Insurance companies and hospitals alike need to start recognizing the severity of such conditions. Without paying attention to these issues, more people like Gus will not only harm themselves but harm others due to their mental state.

Mental illness is something that many people unfortunately have to deal with and something that is not given enough attention. Similar to breaking a bone or having the flu, mental illness needs to be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise the person suffering through this struggle is forced to face each day dealing with the terrible side effects of their condition.

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Emily Arentzen

Junior communication and English double major in transition to becoming a biology minor. Student ambassador for the Cabrini College office of admissions, co-news editor, member of Alpha Lambda Delta.

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