You wouldn’t think Lady Gaga and the state of Nevada have much in common.
After all, one is a pop singer and the other is our nation’s 36th state. One entertains mostly teen and young adult women “monsters,” while the other entertains mostly older white men with Vegas lounge acts (although it’s certainly cleaned up its image in recent years to become a more “family-friendly” environment).
But here’s the secret they share — they both are going to offer innovative mental health treatment. In a nation sorely lacking it.
And that’s something to write about.
The mental health system in America stands alone and apart from the usual health care system. It’s the overlooked, awkward, disheveled half-brother of health care. Psychologists, for instance, have had to fight the medical system just to gain privileges similar to that of other medical professionals in hospitals (where they are still often looked down upon as second-class providers).
So it’s hard to innovate in a system so mismanaged and misunderstood, and often so disconnected from both the usual health care system, as well as — and more importantly — the population it serves.
But Lady Gaga is going to do just that this summer, by offering counseling via her BornBrave Bus. In groups and one-on-one sessions, concert-goers will have a chance to access a version of mental health care rarely seen — immediate and accessible. As she wrote on Twitter:
At the BornBrave Bus you have access to professional private or group chats about mental health, depression, bullying, school & friends … #BornBraveBus there will also be food and games, @djws and @ladystarlightny will DJ with host @BREEDLOVENYC to keep the experience fun.
Not to be outdone by the pop singer, Nevada is also getting into the act by being one of this country’s first states to try and break the cycle of incarcerating people with mental illness, rather than treating them:
Nevada health officials are seeking to bolster psychiatric services for troubled people who might otherwise tax the resources of emergency rooms and prisons, by proposing a 24-hour urgent care center in Las Vegas for the mentally ill.
The $7.5 million plan would include a program to divert those suffering from mental health problems from jails lacking adequate care, in the hopes of reducing a cycle of incarceration.
Nevada recognizes — unlike most states — that prisons are now serving the role as the inpatient state hospitals once did. Deviant behavior has become criminalized, with most states imprisoning people who need mental health treatment. Because it’s easier to do so — but it may also be more costly in the long run (since they are providing a much higher level of security than a person with mental illness typically needs).
Kudos to both Lady Gaga and the state of Nevada for offering innovative mental health care in a society sorely lacking in creative options for people with mental health problems.
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