August 18, 2008

Understaffing at Riverbend

The Sunday Monitor's Aug. 10 editorial ("State's mental health services need attention") barks up the right tree.

As a client of Riverbend Community Mental Health Inc., I have seen the shortfall in money slated for the mental health agency in dramatic ways.

At Riverbend I only get to see the doctor once every two months (or, in times of emergency, once every month). This contrasts rather sharply with a private psychiatrist, who is willing to see his customers once a week. I don't know how many times I have found myself in a pinch when, unable to see my doctor in a timely fashion, I have seen my mental health erode in substantial ways.

Caseworkers and nurses at Riverbend make their appointments with their clientele at their own risk, as they generally haven't the time to care for all who need attention.

It is a puzzling case of the cat chasing its tail, the business side of what goes on at the mental health agency, with an overworked psychiatrist and exhausted staff. I am tired of feeling like I might fall through the proverbial cracks.

How many times have I fretted about the unavailability of mental health services in the Concord area? How many times has the very crux of my difficulties been shipped out, due to necessity, to people who haven't the skillfulness of a psychiatrist? And how many times more will I have to suffer the sure knowledge that when help is really needed, I must lump it or else?



Originally published by For the Monitor.

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