Article Type: Letter to the editor
Author: Eisenberg, Phyllis
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 13 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 222558208
Full Text: Dear Editor,

As a registered nurse and licensed professional counselor, I have devoted over 40 years advocating for health care reform, and more recently, parity in public health. I participated in the Forum for Women and Children with Wisconsin's Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, which was passed last year. While mental health parity, like many other issues, may be legislated, it does not seem to be implemented. My fear is that new changes to health care will not be implemented either. I think it is up to us, mental health providers, to be "watchdogs" and advocate for care in the clients we deal with and to publicize these right to the general public.

I have always believed that as the direct providers of mental health care, we have an obligation to let the public know what is available to them. We need to educate people about their rights. Often, the public is unaware of what rights they have, how to access these rights, and how to ensure their implementation.

How can we accomplish these goals? We need consensus and support of professional organizations and lobbyists. We need to contact our elected officials as groups because that gives us more clout.

Unfortunately, I see our jobs being systematically removed. The University of Wisconsin has eliminated the School of Medical Technology. My nursing degree was a five-year curriculum at the university level. Now nurses and many other health care workers are being trained in technical schools, some without even a high school diploma. I have been laid off" for over two years, following a very successful career. I have looked diligently for jobs, networked, even retrained as a family mediator who is eligible to work with family court. These are all the suggestions career counselors and the Obama Administration (which I support) suggest. The paradox is that our jobs have been eliminated. Master's level social workers have been replaced by personnel with less education and training. I trained two groups of in-home parent assistants, and they were uneducated about child development, normal growth patterns, signs and symptoms of abuse, health issues, and parenting.

Of course, these changes have not benefitted children or their families. Many more deaths have occurred among small children in our state, and some children remain in dangerous situations and in unlicensed homes. I have heard the same from other professionals. Ironically, parents who have lost custody can call as often as they like, often disrupting the child's stability, feelings of safety, and attempts at family life. How are we going to ensure that people will get the health care and mental health care they deserve if Obama's bill is passed? We still have a lot of work to do, and if we all work together, it can succeed.


Phyllis Eisenberg, MS, RN, LPC
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.