By the end of this day, I will have lived through 78 Fourth of July holidays, some more fun than others and some more eventful than others.  When I was a kid living in Longview, Washington, a lumber mill town, I delighted in the annual parade, orange popsicles with juice that ran down my chin, and the huge evening fireworks display over Lake Sacajawea that ended with Uncle Sam and the American flag.  As a young parent, I took joy in providing my own children with some of the Fourth-of-July fun I enjoyed in my own childhood.  So how do I feel about my life this Fourth of July in 2017?

Frankly, I’m scared!  My fear has nothing to do with the holiday itself but has everything to do with our nation’s present political climate and attitude towards the issue of providing mental health help for folks who need it.  I’m lucky, incredibly lucky.  For once, being old has been a huge advantage for me: when I decided to do whatever I needed to do to alleviate my PTSD symptoms, I discovered that Medicare would pay 80% of my psychologist’s bills and that my Medicare supplement would pay the rest.  After paying my deductible for the year, I could have the peace of mind resulting from knowing that the cost of my therapy would be completely covered!  I could fully devote my energy to alleviating my C-PTSD symptoms and not worry about the expense.

But now, what now?  Mental health care for millions of citizens under age sixty-five and not eligible for Medicare is on the line in Congress right now, right this day. Included among these millions of citizens are probably thousands of citizens who are battling the symptoms of Complex PTSD, many of whom have not received a diagnosis and are unaware of what it is they are battling.  They may be suffering symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, and symptoms of DID, including loss of time, and they may be self-medicating themselves with street drugs or alcohol in their attempt to feel better.  Right now, under the present government health insurance system, people can, under optimum conditions, go to a public clinic to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to get a diagnosis.  Chances are, they could also get a minimal amount of therapy.  I know that in my state, Washington, people can go to community clinics for this help. 

I also know, though, that if money to support these community clinics becomes scarce or nonexistent, many people with undiagnosed Complex PTSD or even “simple” PTSD will be lost in the shuffle, unable to connect with a competent and effective source of help.  Resources in the community clinics in my state may be stretched so thinly that covering basic physical ailments of patients may be difficult, and people with mental health issues may receive little to no care.  Yes, right now the future looks grim for those who need competent help dealing with mental health issues. 

So if the worst happens, if funding dries up for people who need and seek mental health help and who don’t have the funds or the private insurance to afford this help, then what?  Frankly, I don’t know.  At best, maybe private foundations will step in to fund mental health clinics; at worst, clinics will close and help will disappear.  People suffering symptoms of PTSD or C-PTSD will, in that case, need to figure out how best to survive.  Those who act out and cause social problems may be put into holding tanks of some sort.  That’s the worst possible scenario I can imagine.  I just don’t know what the answer might be when it comes to future mental health care.  What I do know is that contacting our senators and representatives and letting them know how we feel about this matter is absolutely essential!

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