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How to fix the mental health system

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

People are greedy. Greed is inherent in human nature. Sometimes the motivation created by greed can result in innovation. This helps humanity. However, there are some things, like mental health and health care in general, where greed-driven systems create a hellscape for the people that depend on them. This is the current situation in the United States where greedy people and organizations exploit the people in inhumane ways. Morally bankrupt politicians take campaign contributions to do the dirty work of the corporations who profit from people's sickness and desperation. Only a sick and depraved leadership in a country could tolerate a health care system like ours when we are awash in riches.

Greedy baby stuffs its face in cake
Greed has ruined the health care system

The mental health system can't be fixed unless we fix the health care system. To fix the health care system it must be human-centered rather than money-centered. The only way to do that is to get the corruption out of government. The only way to do that is to clean up media and social media that pollutes the minds of the voters with lies and propaganda. This would also require political will where there is none. Maybe if people were better educated they would come to different conclusions but we have an easily manipulated populace that is vulnerable to going against their own best interests. The people fight each other while the status quo exploits them mercilessly. Life is good at the top.

Considering the amount of effort required to change the sickness of the political system and the economic system, we have to start thinking locally. The hope is that by creating human-centered systems at the local level, successes can be replicated enough that eventually nation-wide change would be inevitable. It's the same process that led to national gay marriage adoption and the eventual legalization of cannabis at the national level.

As a technologist looking at the situation in Minnesota where I practice, I see how the fiefdoms created by healthcare companies create waste, complexity and poor results for the people. We all have five "My Charts" at various networks. We have to have referrals from within a particular healthcare network just to get an appointment for something urgent. In mental health, it can be impossible to find a psychiatrist or therapist because of wait-times. Meanwhile, smaller providers who have availability are hidden from view and people conclude that there is no one to help.

Furthermore, getting a referral can be a hassle that involves additional appointments and wait times. If we had a mental health system for the people, rather than one to protect fiefdoms which create fragmentation and also replicate the same systems, we would have one system. This system would eliminate waste and redundancy, make getting referrals optional, and if needed, simple to obtain. Finding all available providers within the state would be simple.

For example, if you needed to find a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, you would log into a state system. All licensed psychotherapists and psychiatrists would be registered with this system. The state already has this information. Providers would maintain their availability within the system. Searching the system would yield results for any licensed providers located within your search radius and would show their availability. It would be disallowed for insurers to carve out fiefdoms around their providers. Anyone with insurance in Minnesota would be able to freely make appointments with any licensed mental health provider in the state.

It can be this way if are willing to put pressure on the state to adopt laws and to provide funding to build this system.

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