I’ve spent more than my fair share of time working with clients who suffered a traumatic brain injury. I help shepherd them through the courts, but there isn’t much I can do in the way of providing mental health support, other than trying to be there for them to the extent I can.
That’s probably why a nice op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal by a young Harvard Medical School student caught my eye. The author is Nathaniel P. Morris, who wrote about “Why I’m Becoming a Psychiatrist.” The fact that such an article is even noteworthy speaks volumes about where we are as a society regarding mental health.
Mr. Morris cites some interesting facts. He writes that the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that some 44 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 42,000/year. “Depression and anxiety are among the top contributors to disability.”
According the Department of Health and Human Services, Morris adds, the US needs at least 2,800 more psychiatrists to address a current shortage.
What I see is that people who suffer from any form of mental disability are treated as second class citizens in our health care system. It really is time to get out of the dark ages and recognize that the brain is an organ, just like a heart or liver, and it can become ill. We need to eliminate the stigma mental health issues have and get serious about creating effective solutions to deal with a very real problem.
I remember vividly one former client with traumatic brain injury who was not able to recover what we had hoped (very difficult case and situation) and who last I knew, was left drifting around in society without support through absolutely no fault of his own.
That haunts me. People like Mr. Morris give me hope.
Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA. A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association. Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine. Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.