America First

America first!  This proclamation has been touted significantly over the last couple of years.  As an American, having an attitude of America first is wonderful.  But, what exactly is America first?  How do we determine what is best for us?  These two questions are what I am going to try to answer.

 America first involves a strong economy, military, borders, and trade deals in favor of American interest.  I support these American first policies.  I would be a fool if I did not.  First, other countries would tear us down limb by limb until we were no better than them or worse; misery likes company.  I am not one who believes in American exceptionalism as we are all created equal.  America has been given this unique position as the wealthiest country in the world, we can use this to make our lives more comfortable and do our best to help our neighbors.

Strong Economy

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Every country desires a strong economy. Regardless if we like it or not.  Workers are divided up by income.  In America there are lower, middle, and upper classes.  Generally the majority of the population is in the lower to middle class structure with the smallest percentage being the upper class.  This will primarily always be the case, although in America we have great divides in wealth between the middle and upper class.  The middle class is becoming closer to the lower class as corporations look to cut cost and pass the savings on to new generations who are hired at a fraction of their predecessor’s wage.

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At the moment the jobless rates are at record lows. It is very easy to find a job although it is not so easy to find a middle or upper class job.  Most families are made up of two incomes with one or both income earners working two jobs.  Family life is cut, with providers living a life working and not much time being.  In my opinion this is not America first.  So what, I have a job, I have two jobs, but if I do not see my spouse or kids what does it matter?  Yet to provide shelter, clothes, and food you do what you must in order to survive.  Corporations understand that to squeeze as much productivity out of their employees they will work them more, and pay them less.  The price of living goes up, but wages stay the same.  This is not America first.

Powerful Military

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America is the wealthiest country with the most powerful military ever known to exist. A superpower as America needs a strong military in order to stay at the top; this is understandable.  Possessing a strong military is placing America first.  What is not placing America first is using this military for unjust causes.  In my opinion there has not been a just conflict since WWII.  Korea, Vietnam, both gulf wars, and Afghanistan simply were not needed to advance the country.  Currently we have thousands of troops at the Mexico border as a political stunt keeping us safe from migrants.  This is not placing America first.

Borders

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A country needs borders not a wall and razor wire. A country such as America was founded on the premise that this land is open for those who seek a better life.  This is America first.  Currently foreigners are not welcome in the country, especially if you are poor.  While we shake hands with Saudi murderers we spray tear gas at children.  This is not America first.  America first would be to stand up to outlaws such as the prince of Saudi Arabia.  Kindness and compassion are the footsteps of God, and this is America first.

A Deal Maker

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Currently America has a president that is supposedly an American first type of guy. He is supposedly a great deal maker.  This is up to interpretation.  There is no America first without putting the people first.  An unregulated market and high tariffs on goods only will hurt us.  Unfortunately people are too greedy not take advantage of deregulation.  If you want America first you protect the people from cheats and scammers.  This is not possible when you have someone who has always been a cheat and scammer running the show.  Donald Trump is not America first.

 

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The Community Mental Health Crisis

Today we have a serious problem with community mental health services. I am speaking of non-profit mental health organizations who treat mental health patients with a mindset of a factory manager. This is beneficial if you are Ford Motors not to treat people with serious diseases.  But that is exactly what is taking place.

Our health care system is not motivated by patient care rather it is a money motivated system ran by chief financial officers who are not practitioners. Most mental health practitioners within community mental health centers care for their patients. They have spent at the minimum 6 years of formal education 2 years of graduate work involving internships and supervision. Providers need another 2 years under direct supervision before receiving a independent license.

Burn Out!

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We always hear of the burn out rate with mental health care counselors. Why is this? I have first hand knowledge of this field, so I will explain why burnout takes place. A new graduate of a master’s program in mental health takes a job at a mental health care facility with a mission to help people. They know the pay is not great, the job is a public service. Yet to receive a full license to practice you need 2 years of supervision. Mental health care facilities take advantage of this necessity. They can bring on fresh graduates and pay them under market rates because they know that they need the supervision.

The day in the life of a therapist who work at community mental health care facilities is that of a production line. They even call it “productivity.” In an 8 hour shift the therapist is scheduled with 10 clients who will see the therapist for 45-minute sessions. That is seeing people back to back without a break. These therapists are lucky to get a lunch and employers can get away with it because they are salary. Of course, they try to account for cancellations. God forbid that the therapist can get caught up on paperwork.  Patient care which is touted as the highest of goals is the last thing the leadership, if they like it or not cares about.

Patients are not getting adequate care because they are seeing burnt out therapist who are trying there best to survive in a system that is money driven. Ask anyone who has ever worked in community mental health; the work load verses compensation is greatly unbalanced. Yet these warriors will continue for the love of their patients even if they become patients themselves.

It is time for a change in community mental health services. People need quality mental health services, and this will not happen when the providers are burnt out. Counselors can’t wait till they can land a job outside of the non-profit world. I understand that these organizations need money to survive, the problem is much deeper than the organizations. The major problem involves lack of funding and support for mental health in general.

How do we fix this problem? We need to find a way to place patient care above money. We need to give mental health counselors a break between patients to decompress from intense sessions which takes a toll on the provider. Mental health organizations should not be running like a factory.

Mental Heal Crisis!

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The United States has a serious mental health crisis and within this crisis is the ones who provide the counseling services. Without change we will not be able to better help those who spent years of their lives to learn to serve those in need. Our mental health care providers are heroes who go into the worst of the worst scenarios with patients. These unsung heroes deserve a life. They deserve adequate pay without the slave labor.

I know my answer to the problem will not be beneficial because there is not enough funding for this change. I propose that a counselor see only 5 patients per day. Providers should be required to take breaks and lunches. Providers should receive adequate pay for the services they provide. Counselors should never have to do paperwork at home. Seems simple, but if this was put in place the community mental health centers would close their doors for lack of funds. How do we fix this problem?

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