A pair of open letters discusses the quality of mental health care and the possible effect of video games on adolescents.
You want good mental health care for your son, but it won’t be easy to get.
By Ann Elizabeth
Let me be the first to welcome you to the world of the broken mental health care system, a club that no one wants to belong to (“Parents seek psychiatric help for Waseca suspect,” June 30). You will literally feel like you have fallen into the rabbit’s hole of “Alice in Wonderland,” especially if you have utilized the physical health care system and try to compare the two.
Thank goodness that your son was stopped before he carried out his plan. He and you are right: He needs serious help. Good luck with that.
I don’t mean to sound crass, but I speak from the voice of a parent who has considerable experience in this area. Even on the outside of the prison system and even for those with money or insurance to pay for mental health treatment, the system is sorely lacking.
People with serious mental illness are asked to wait for six to eight weeks before they can get in to see a psychiatrist. Imagine being ill with a physical disease that threatens your life and being asked to wait that long. (It would never happen.) To make matters worse, a physical illness usually threatens only that individual’s life. A mental illness can threaten many lives, as evidenced in the mass shootings.
Can’t get in to a psychiatrist in a timely fashion? Then you’d better threaten to kill yourself so you can be hospitalized. Yes, you will see a psychiatrist quickly there, but don’t expect anything as far as “therapy,” other than medications — and it’s hard to think the situation is better in prison.
I feel your pain. Best wishes.
Ann Elizabeth, of Shorewood, is a nurse.
Your shock and grief must be at its most extreme right now. I have two sons and know how we are affected by everything they do, good and bad. Your son is not much different from mine. We raised them the best we could with love and education, but of course they still had to find their own way.
A difference with raising my sons was that I did not have to manage the addiction young boys have in today’s world to violent, controlling video games. Whether or not it applies in this case, it is my strong feeling that we are not focusing on the highly intoxicating influence that repetitive games might have on young minds. We need to ask about subtle and pervasive impacts. If anyone of us watched and interacted with images or actions of any kind for hours at a time, let alone over a period of years, we would be deeply influenced and indoctrinated to that exposure.
It would be relevant to investigate how much gaming your son has done as an adolescent. Perhaps any mental illness may have close links to — or may actually begin with — extensive exposure to violent and insidiously repetitive video games.
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