Like many of you, I follow the legislature’s activities dealing with the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Few argue that the system is not functioning as it should. Also, few can agree on how to correct the situation. It appears that there are some major steps aloft to change things. We can only hope the changes will be for the good.
I don’t, at this point, have many of the details. It appears there are more than one plan afloat in Charleston and we will have to wait to see how it plays out.
As I See It, two areas need immediate help. The first is the way our state handles mental health issues. Or should I say the lack of the way our state handles mental health issues. I certainly realize that we are all unique and it is difficult to single out what is pragmatic and what is just a characteristic trait. However, when everyone including the patient recognizes the problem and they still can’t get help… well that’s where we need to begin. If alcoholism and drug addiction are considered illnesses, why isn’t the same amount of attention given to mental illness? Leaders of our state have ignored this problem and kicked the can down the road long enough. It’s time to take the bull by the horns and really try to come up with a plan. Our citizens deserve no less.
The second problem I see with the DHHR is the way they handle child custody, domestic abuse cases. I’m the first to say we must protect our children, but there must be a better way than taking the word of a disgruntled child or parent. Some years ago, I had an employee whose child was mad at them for making them do their chores at home. That child went to school and made outrageous claims which had far reaching results. The father had to leave the home, they went through months of agonizing questioning and defending themselves when it was all avoidable if, someone with the training had conducted a thorough investigation.
I have seen the same thing happen with divorced parents. One makes a claim against the other, often with little or no factual basis and it turns dozens of people’s lives upside down. The parent only is looking to get back at the other one often in the name of “protecting the kids.” They do not think about the damage they do to the children or other family members. Too many innocent people suffer when someone miss uses the system and it happens more often than most want to admit.
I sincerely hope that if the legislature doesn’t do anything else this session, it fixes DHHR. I know it won’t be easy, but our citizens deserve better than what they have been getting.