Many posit that we determine the majority of our health ourselves by our behaviors and habits: how much we exercise and sleep, what and how much we eat, our stress level, the types and health of relationships we have, our connectedness with our community, drug use and abuse and other similar factors. If we can determine a large part of our healthy, then we should encourage healthy habits. It is better and more economical to stay physically and mentally healthy than to get sick and try and fix it. Thus, it is in both our personal and societal interest to keep people healthy.
I believe a healthier population, particularly in disadvantaged communities, benefits all Californians. We will give people more healthcare options and reorient the system toward preventative medicine, which costs less, and is more amenable to addressing behavioral health issues.
We should expand programs that help the person, not just the disease. Clean living homes, group care, and other environments that can help people to cope and stay clean from drug abuse should be expanded. This could be combine with housing programs for those who might otherwise end up homeless due to behavioral health conditions. It is a far better thing to treat and house many of these people short term until they can manage on their own, than to face the alternative: homeless, addicted to drugs, mentally ill, committing crimes such as robbery and prostitution to support drug addictions, neglected children perpetuating the cycle, and the list goes on. Treatment and short term housing is both the humane and economical thing to do. We have far too many people inhabiting the streets and tent cities due to behavioral health issues that could otherwise lead productive lives.
We should expand the programs that are proven to work, and discontinue funding those that do not give results. When money is offered to organizations, there will be many takers. We need to insure that these organizations are truly helping.
To treat and short term house also serves public safety. It is better for dedicated help to engage with them than the police or emergency room staff.
CA can scale its behavioral health programs without bloating the number of public employees by cooperating with existing organizations that are dedicated to helping people. Simply, we need public private partnerships, with the necessary oversight to manage the programs. Locals best understand local needs. We need to seek out creative ways to let existing local organizations help local people: Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lyons Club, environmental groups, sober living groups, and more. Many want to assist those in need and we must help them to help others, with oversight to ensure that California taxpayer dollars are properly spent and that private agendas are consistent with public policy.
We should also incentivize employers and health Care programs to offer integrative medicine and behavioral health sections as part of the basic programs.
We need to treat behavioral health conditions in a matter of fact matter manner in the same way that we would treat a broken arm.
California should not try to lead the nation in destigmatizing behavioral health conditions alone, but instead coordinate with other states and the Federal government to minimize resources spent on marketing the program. It is for more productive to treat people than to run fancy advertisements. I want results and healthy people, not glossy advertisements and brochures.
For the future, behavioral health topics should be included in our educational system so that the younger generation might avoid some of these pitfalls and be sympathetic to those afflicted.