Peter’s Take is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
We’ve all seen mentally ill people on the street, often disheveled, perhaps speaking to no one in particular, seemingly unaware that they are ill and unable to care for themselves.
This may be the face of mental illness, but it shouldn’t be because recovery is achievable.
Recovery requires early detection of psychotic illnesses, followed by prompt and effective treatment to prevent the cognitive decline that occurs when psychosis goes untreated. Early intervention also prevents or limits substance abuse, involvement in the legal system, and other negative but all-too-common consequences of severe mental illness.
Early identification of psychotic illnesses
One highly effective program is Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) for those with early episode psychosis (or First Episode Psychosis), a program based on extensive research with positive outcomes sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
In Northern Virginia, all of the localities except Arlington offer this evidence-based CSC model for teens and young adults experiencing early-episode psychosis. Arlington offers elements of this program, but it does not offer them in a way that adheres to the model and is intensive enough to effectively treat the most severely ill teens and young adults with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders.
Without CSC what does Arlington offer?
Arlington offers an array of programs, what one parent calls a “patchwork,” but not CSC for those with the most severe illness. These teens and young adults either go untreated, isolating at home, often frightened by their symptoms, and falling further behind their peers, or receive in-home services from Arlington’s PACT (Program of Assertive Community Treatment), essentially, long-term care.
We are unnecessarily jeopardizing the possibility of recovery when we place young adults in long-term care, declare them disabled, and consign them to a lifetime of poverty living on Social Security Income (SSI). These are often young adults who showed promise in school or other pursuits and who still have potential. Arlington should be offering a program that conforms to the CSC model for those teens and young adults who need these very intensive but short-term (usually two years) services built around a goal of recovery. Recovery is what families and ill young adults want and deserve.
Even though the CSC program is short-term, its low caseloads and intensive services are costly. Unlike Arlington, our Northern Virginia neighbors all offer CSC programs and receive ongoing funding from state and federal sources to help cover the costs. (Unfortunately, Arlington didn’t submit an application when those funding sources were first offered.) However, the consequences of NOT treating these teens and young adults effectively are also costly, in terms of arrests, incarceration, hospitalization, homelessness, poverty, and a lifetime of intensive service needs. This is why the Mental Health Subcommittee of Arlington’s Police Practices Group recommended (at p. 13) implementation of such a program to reduce the number of people with mental illness who fall into crisis.
As “Sandy,” an Arlington parent, explains:
My son is in his early thirties and has schizoaffective disorder. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer. Over the past 3 years his symptoms worsened resulting in over a dozen hospitalizations, arrests and incarcerations in Arlington. He is now homeless and receives SSI because he is disabled. If he’d had access to a CSC program my son would likely be in recovery, working and managing his illness. Now I fear what will happen to him and to the public’s safety.
It is also costly when we do not promptly and effectively treat those with severe mental illness.
Arlington should begin now to serve teens and young adults with schizophrenia with an evidence-based Coordinated Specialty Care program.
“We want our young adults with severe mental illnesses to learn to manage their illness so they can work in increasingly responsible positions. When we place a young adult on SSI, we are asking them to settle for less than they should,” says Naomi Verdugo, a NAMI family support group facilitator in Arlington for over 17 years.
Arlington cannot afford not to provide a CSC program. Recovery is achievable if only we provide one.
Peter Rousselot previously served as Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission (FAAC) to the Arlington County Board and as Co-Chair of the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI) to the Arlington School Board. He is also a former Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) and a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). He currently serves as a board member of the Together Virginia PAC, a political action committee dedicated to identifying, helping and advising Democratic candidates in rural Virginia.
Arlington County’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation says it has a surfeit of programs for teens — but not enough teens to fill them. Between July 2021 and June 2022,…
The Old Bike Shop closed earlier this year in Lyon Park, after a decade in business, but a new bike shop is moving in. Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative, based at 2111…
The local small business Red Bean Harvest that imports authentic Colombian coffee is highlighted in Small Business Focus.
A nearly decade-old 5K race through Fairlington supporting a local girl with a rare disease is canceled, possibly indefinitely. Since 2014, hundreds of Arlingtonians and visitors have participated in the…
EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.
The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.
Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.
“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.
Are you feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with life’s challenges? You’re not alone. Mental health issues are more common than you might think, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Our counseling service provides a safe, supportive environment where you can explore your feelings, identify negative thought patterns, and learn coping skills to manage your symptoms. Lauren is trained in evidence-based practices and specializes in a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction.
We understand that seeking counseling can be intimidating, but we believe that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling, happy life. Our approach is non-judgmental and compassionate, and we work collaboratively with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals.
We offer a free 15-minute consultation to see if our service is a good fit for you. Reach out at https://peacefulmindsolutions.com or call (703) 994-0300 to set up a consultation.
Singin’ in the Rain
The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted for the stage by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping
5 Tips for Buying Your Dream Home – A Free…
Are you planning to move in the next 12 months but feeling overwhelmed by the current real estate market’s low inventory and high mortgage rates? Join us for a short seminar where we’ll provide 5 tips to help you find