live with stigma of ‘invisible' disabilities.
By KYLE ODEGARD
Mental health agency
reps stress need for more funding
It'd be easy to notice Pam McCollum's disability if she were blind, carrying a cane and wearing sunglasses, or maybe sitting in a wheelchair.
Even though McCollum could blend into a crowd, she lives with what she calls "the invisible disability" — mental illness.
has suffered major depression and had manic episodes.
"I have bad times. Last year, I was barely hanging on," McCollum said. "If I didn't have work to go to, I probably would've had some really significant episodes."
In a way, she's fortunate. Other people with a mental illness can't find jobs.
McCollum and six other residents with mental illnesses spoke during a forum at the Corvallis Benton County Public Library Tuesday night.
Much of their discussion was on the problems they faced.
They talked about discrimination against those labeled "mental," the resulting futility of job searches, problems paying for medicine and getting health insurance and the need for safe, affordable housing.
One woman said that people with mental illnesses do better when they have food, sleep and shelter — and know they aren't going to lose those.
Some praised mental health services in
Several agency representatives spoke at the meeting, as well.
Mike May, vice president/medical director of Samaritan Health Services, said mental health services in
But he sharply criticized mental health care in
"The system is so screwed up it's unreal. The fact we can provide as good of service with the system is remarkable," May said. "Ultimately, there's going to need to be more funding. But society isn't willing to pay it."
Lt. Tim Brewer of Corvallis Police Department said budget cuts have created a gap in services, so police have to respond to help the mentally ill.
"Frequently, the resolution that occurs is a person is taken into custody," he added, which happens a couple times a week.
In those situations, officers deem the person is in immediate need of mental health treatment, as they are posing a danger to themselves or others, Brewer said.
About 60 people were in the audience at the Corvallis Library for the "Living with Mental Illness in
Kyle Odegard covers Philomath and rural