A mental health moment:

­­ Bumper sticker of the week: Perfectionism is a malignant force in our society.

­­ Quote of the week: ''I've spent 25 years in the mental health and substance abuse fields and nothing has changed, other than the pills. Today, there are more of them and they are more expensive. The field has sold out to the pharmaceutical companies. The next great hope will be genetics. There has to be something wrong with our genes. Or the infamous chemical imbalance. Anything, other than to have to look at ourselves and admit that we may need to make some changes. Heaven forbid.'' The Peever.Com, Bruce Weik

­­ Crazy is:--

working 60 hours a week at a job you hate.--

never saying you're sorry.--

getting married to that guy who already beat you once.--

not divorcing him when he beats you again.--

thinking you can kill terrorism.--

wanting to look 30 when you're 60.--

thinking revenge will make you feel better.--

locking yourself up in your house because you are afraid to live.--

thinking you're not going to die.--

believing pharmaceuticals will cure our souls.

­­ Does the mental health field deserve the beating it's currently getting? In the State of Illinois, the answer is yes. The state tries to play both ends of the game. Our politicians want to maintain state operated facilities, which translates into jobs, which translates into voters who obviously want the facilities to stay open. On the other hand, we want to deinstitutionalize everyone, other than prisoners, who have become the state's most promising job source. Anyway, attempting to operate at both ends of the spectrum has resulted in failure for both. You end up with a Zeller Mental Health Center that is vastly underutilized, resulting in tremendous overhead, while year after year, the state sends the message to community based programs, ''Sorry, there's no money for you.'' Workers in community based programs have gone 4-5 years without raises. These are people with Master's degrees and Ph.D's, working for less than people can make in factories. The state of mental health and substance abuse programs in the State of Illinois are so marginal that they wouldn't register on the Richer Scale. Everyone is to blame, as we turn our eyes away from some of the most needy people in our society.

­­ I was recently introduced to the concept of ''best practices.'' I like this idea. When doing my job, I am to use my ''best practice.'' This is apparently a state bureaucratic concept that a bunch of managers thought up one day when they had nothing else to do, which, by the way, is where most useless ideas come from. Anyway, I am to use the most up-to-date and scientific skills, as demonstrated by research and surveys and other such high fashioned concoctions. In my case, this would be the latest material in the substance abuse field. OK, for all of you out there, here it is, the best I got, for only 50 cents: Please don't drink and drug yourselves into oblivion. It will only cause you pain and sorrow.'' Gee, I'm smarter and more up-to-date than I thought.

­­ Here's a mental health moment: Bush promotes virgin values to curb teen sex. I'm betting this is one of those ''do as I say, not as I did'' deals. Actually, I doubt if he includes males in this whimsical theory.

­­ Pills are everywhere. Prozac is past tense. Paxil and Zyban are much more current, at least as of today. There's a pill for just about everything. I'm not a big fan of pills, though they admittedly can be helpful. But I have never seen recreational drugs prove beneficial to anyone. Never, ever in 25 years of counseling have I had anyone come back and say, ''Bruce, you were wrong. My life has been greatly enhanced by my use of crack.'' It hasn't happened and won't happen. Drugs dull you down, numb you, make you stupider. Of course, it is always possible that someday, when anthropologists are combing through our trash, that they will come to the conclusion that perhaps drugging ourselves into oblivion was not such a bad way to deal with this world. Sort of a reversal of Darwin's theory.

­­ Have a good mental health day. Remember, reality is nothing more than what you think it is.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website May 14, 2002

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