For those of you who live in more civilised countries, let me first explain that in the US, state run mental health services are only for the uninsured and poor. In my home state, they were disastrously privatised in 2003 with more or less exactly the results one would expect.
I have been lucky that by pitching battle with them I have managed to stay under the care of a single psychiatrist for about a year and a half. He turned out to be a good one, which is more than I can say for some of his colleagues and co-workers. You can read, if you like, about one specific case worker I had who was worse than useless and more generally about the difficulties of engaging with these people. All of my readers in the UK may feel free to laugh at me but I am really looking forward to having access to the NHS next year. However bad it might be, and it doesn't sound idyllic, I have often found myself agog with envy at various descriptions even of being in hospital (they're allowed outside? they are allowed to go to the shops? they have crisis intervention teams? they have the option to see a therapist, even with a long waiting list?)
That short list of my own incredulity should give you some idea of what it's like here. Am I now a potential target for BNP anti-immigrant attacks for expressing an interest in the NHS? Or will they hold off because I'm white and English-speaking? Oh dear. I can't imagine, though, that anyone would wonder at it if they had to deal with the state of things in this country - or maybe I don't need to imagine it, just read the papers and see what the Republicans have been up to lately. It does seem to me that as I grow saner, the world has gone a bit farther off its rocker.
Anyhow, all I need do now is swing by there to pick up a copy of my chart (that will be interesting to see) to take with me and I'll be done! No more worrying that they will drop low need patients such as myself, no more worrying that the agency I'm currently enrolled with will go bankrupt (as happened last December - it took me six weeks and repeated phone calls that I would not have been able to make had I not been more or less well to get into a new one), no more worrying that I'll get a job only to have to pay for all this myself since most health insurance policies in the US don't cover mental health at all, or, if they do, have a lifetime limit that I would get through in about six months, a year at the outside.
I'm not going to miss this part of life in the US.