A Consumer’s Voice

First let me say that my heart goes out to the many people who have been affected by the violence that has taken place over the last few years.

I listen to professional people in the mental health profession, read articles and listen to radio and TV programs as much as I possible can. What the common thread is that they talk as professionals, which they are. What offends me as a consumer, an advocate for consumer rights and a non-professional, is that they pretend to speak for me.

I spoke to the New Hampshire Senate sub-committee, some three years ago that was going to make recommendations to the New Hampshire Senate on cuts to DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services). I had the opportunity to speak to the committee. What I told them that you can cut DHHS budget now, but you will pay for it later in the added use local police departments, emergency rooms, prison’s and increased violence to society and to ourselves. Unfortunately I was correct. Since that time the sates, local governments and the Federal government have cut two billion dollars from mental illness services! The Federal government has restored one hundred million dollars! No other Disease has had such drastic cuts.

In the 12/22/2013 edition of the Nashua Telegraph’s Sunday Newspaper, I read an article on Depression in which Ian Cook, a Depression Researcher at the University of California at los Angles, said that the understanding of Depression “is similar to where lung disease was 100 years ago”.

Where is the voice of the Consumer? Why we are not asked what is it like to live with mental illness on daily basis? How do we feel when all the attention given to mental illness is the violence that has taken place? How do we feel when we hear that people with mental illness need special laws to keep “them” from harming society? As people with mental illness on a per capita basis we are far more likely to harm ourselves than we are to harm society. Why are there not articles written, TV and Radio programs on the drastic increase in suicide’s among people with mental illness? Why are we not asked if we have any input as to how we can as Consumers offer ideas in the crisis’s that have happened and that may happen again? More than anyone we have a better understanding of how it feels to have a mental illness.

Consumers need to be part of the “system” on every level, so that we can show society that we can be part of the solution and not the problem.

We can help, given the chance.

Tom Doucette

DBSA Nashua, President

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