Monday, April 30, 2012

For The Love of Our Children

We all know people who have lost their homes due to staggering medical bills.  These are hard-working Americans with jobs and health insurance.  The premiums and deductibles have increased over the years, but a serious health issue that requires extensive hospitalization and major surgery can send any middle-class family into immediate poverty.

The subject has been covered extensively in various forms. The ineffective for-profit health care system has propelled the changes found in the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) - A few things have changed: Keeping children in the parent's health insurance until age 26 No pre-existing conditions denial. Reimbursing premiums to consumers if 80% of said premiums are not spent directly on the patient.   

The Act, also refereed to as "Obama Care" has been froth with opposition and an effort to dismantle what is now the law of the land, has found its way to The Supreme Court in recent days.  While everyone focuses on health care for the body, very few are advocating for the need of widely available mental health care services.  

The "tough it out", "walk it off", "pull yourself by the bootstraps" proponents have no clue what they are talking about.  By the time they do, it is often too late.

Adults are overwhelmed by decreasing wages, rising daily expenses, loss of employment and aging parents.  But what about the teenagers? What about the kids?

The teenage years are froth with angst.  In some households, the stress is magnified by parental divorce, financial downturns, or the loss of friendships/relationships.  School work can be overwhelming due to unrealistic expectations and lack of school resources.

The insulation from the realities of adulthood are peeled away from our children earlier than ever.  It is not unusual for middle school age children to be concerned about the family's finances and express these concerns to their angst-riddled peers.

Childhood ends way too early in most households and while teenagers maybe intellectually advanced, the fact remains that they are emotionally unable to handle adult stressors without help.

Some teenagers feel they are being rushed out into a world that has no safety net and realistically, offers no real means of financial support in the form of living wages.  In short, they are in the same boat as their adult parents without the benefit of experience or coping mechanisms.

The sobering news is that in the United States the ages between 15 and 24 are ripe for suicidal behavior.  The Centers for Disease Control has a complete breakdown of ages and gender as well as methods used. It should not be surprising that in the United States, 60 percent of suicides committed by teenagers involve the pernicious accessibility to firearms.

Warning signs and cries for help or attention maybe overlooked as a phase teens go through and minimized in the light of more pressing issues, but they do include writing about death and dying consistently, excessive sleep, self-mutilation (cutting), and/or destructive behavior to their own/others property.

As parents, the guilt can be overwhelming after the death of a child.  Many parents will revisit scenarios and imagine a different outcome. For example; "Could I have handled this better?" - "I should have done something" - "he/she should have been in therapy" - "Why didn't I do...?"

The fact remains that most Americans don't have sufficient health care coverage for physical issues and have even less coverage for adequate mental health services.  Many health plans do not cover any. Many communities have none.

Depressed Teenage Boy - Credit: Dreamtime
This is the reality for the vast majority of Americans and their dependents  American parents, by far and large, are ill equipped to handle the situation on their own and have very few external resources available to help their children.

Teenage suicide could be greatly reduced in the United States if no one had to jump through hoops to get the health care they need when needed.  Health care is not a luxury, but a tool that ensures survival and a human right that should be easily available to all.

No amount of money is bringing that child back to his parents.

For the love of our children, we need Universal Health Care now.  We can't afford to lose another young life for the love of money.


Health Reform: Fact Sheet
Kids Health: About Teen Suicide

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