Deaths of Despair in Middle Aged White Men – Are Our Leaders Listening?

American companies have created a great financial wealth all over the world. Technology on one hand has made our lives so much mechanical, and functional. However, on the other hand, it has eroded the trust and faith in the human beings. It created more social and individual isolation in human beings here and it is happening all over the world. The jobs which 100 people were doing are being done by one individual replacing 99 human beings with a machine. All those people who are laid off from their jobs still have their basic needs and their families’ needs which they requires sustenance.

The meaningful work is as essential to human beings as breathing to life. All those laid off employees, i.e. human beings suffer from extreme low self-esteem, isolation and depression. Sometimes it leads to unintended emotional consequences which our leaders and policy makers have been ignoring for the last four to five decades in United States and also in European and Asian countries due to free trade fad. It has destroyed long term stability of the global family systems. Sometimes these corporations exploited human feelings and emotions to advance their agenda of making huge profits while ignoring the human sufferings through very seductive and enticing TV and Radio commercials.

I started the non-profit mental health agency more than two decades ago (1993) in Concord to serve the local underserved. In fact, I was very new in Contra Costa County (CCC) at that time and approached the local leadership to help those who needed us the most, the underserved and the poor inflicted with mental illness and their families. Intriguingly enough, we were told we were the new kids on the block and that CCC had already established contractors in place for such services. Therefore, we were adamantly denied any likely funding by the leadership of CCC Mental Health. Nevertheless, we did not give up and tried to knock on the doors at the Federal Government for funding and we succeeded. However, it has been almost a quarter century with the CCC Mental Health leadership; nothing has changed in CCC since then.

In another attempt, I tried to approach our local county supervisor, Honorable Karen Mitchoff for help in getting more services for people with mental disabilities rather than more jails but got no help. It was a very sad day for the local mentally ill, their families and the homeless community at larger. These are not undocumented people but the less fortunate born and raised here locally. Also, their families have been crying for help for many years, and our local leaders and policy makers are failing them consistently.

Midlife Crisis

Besides, I was trying for many months to schedule an appointment with Honorable Mitchoff to discuss how to save the county and the tax payer’s funds to provide community based residential and outpatient supportive services to people with mental disabilities and the homeless. I wanted to offer my 33 years of experience as a mental health professional to service our county residents. I also wanted to share with the County Supervisor my learning from a recent conference on mental illness, and the latest research in the field. I wanted to share all these things. In fact, it has been very clear that the mentally ill and juveniles who are kept in the community based programs show better outcomes than those who are kept in institutions including jails.

Our County Supervisor, rather than listening to what I was suggesting her opted to shut me down with unfair helpless arguments and pessimistic attitudes that there is nothing she could lawfully do and that there is not enough funding available. From what I can confirmedly gather funding is not the issue, but rather the ignorance and insincerity to the local people. Rather our elected leaders have loyalty and sincerity to special interests who typically fund local elections. It is very disturbing that CCC has taken significant chunk of funding for administrative costs even from AB 109 funding which should have gone to provide real services to those mentally ill and homeless.

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors has voted to provide funding to build a new jail facility to provide services to mentally ill patients in the new prison. There were shocking statistics from during one the Board meetings where it was mentioned how many people were in the county jail in Martinez who needed mental health services.

It is very surprising to see that when the research is consistently showing that mentally ill patients show more functional outcomes in the community based programs rather than in the jail or institution based programs, then why our Board of Supervisors voted for more jails and spend our money on institutions which do not create positive outcomes or leads to more recidivism? All of us need to find that out from our leaders on what information their decisions are based on. My hunch is that they are getting paid from those lobbyists and consultants. That is the reason they will not adopt a common sense approach to provide those services in the community with less barriers to common people rather than in jails.

I was trying for many years to provide a common sense approach for the community and also for the families of those who cannot afford to travel outside the county and are blocked by the bureaucratic and jail boundaries. I think I agree with our current President that there are too many rules and regulations that impede delivery of real and affordable services to ordinary people and our current leaders are not fulfilling their promises to the ordinary people rather to the special interests who fund their political campaigns.

We do need to change such leaders who feel helpless and hopeless to provide solutions to our local problems in our community like homelessness and mental illness. We do need to change our county and state leadership in the next election, being the candidate of California Governor; I will be working hard to bring that change. I would appreciate the support of the local community and citizens of our Golden State to make it a reality.