Hero of the Week: February 8, Kathleen Sebelius and the Dept. of Health and Human Services

8 Feb
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Newton, national attention centered on the issue of guns. One frequent sidebar, however, was mental illness. The NRA seized on this, insisting, ironically, on a national registry of the mentally ill. For a while it seemed that shrill voices and fear would capitalize on the existing stigma and further marginalize those with mental health issues, making care for the mentally ill even more challenging. Fortunately, calmer voices are prevailing.

In a wonderful editorial this week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlines the recent history of mental health care and what her agency intends to do to improve things. Like too many caring, common sense aspects of government, inclusive approaches to mental health started nearly 50 years ago and have been undermined by the Reaganite approach to strangling government programs. Sebelius intends to reverse that trend.

She rightly identified the main problems as stigma, early diagnosis and care, and well-funded and accessible programs. Building on the fundamentals already rolling out thanks to the Affordable Care Act, HHS will be working on new programs to ensure people get the care they need and encourage people  seek timely, meaningful help. Thank you, Madam Secretary, for taking this growing problem seriously and treating it with humanity and dignity.

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for this week’s honorable mention. In another welcome move from the Obama administration, the Department of Defense has announced plans to begin implementing benefits for same-sex partners of military personnel. Sadly, because of DOMA, many of the more than 1100 benefits provided to heterosexual couples are blocked. With the dismantling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, however, gay and lesbian military personnel can be open about their families and the government can provide some basic benefits for them. It is delightful to see another agency taking the mandate of the President’s second term seriously and moving forward — with or without Congress — to do the right thing for the American people.

4 Responses to “Hero of the Week: February 8, Kathleen Sebelius and the Dept. of Health and Human Services”

  1. Jennifer Carey February 8, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    This registry for the mentally ill thing makes no sense to me. How does the NRA insist that will keep people safe when they are against background checks or a registry of gun owners? So you have a registry of the mentally ill, but no means of preventing them from purchasing or owning guns? What’s the point?
    I will tell you, if there is a registry of the mentally ill, LaPierre should be at the top of the list… and not allowed to own a gun.

  2. dykewriter February 8, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    I think the most under examined area of people do do mass shootings

    is their religious level

    because I think that plays a part in the permission or justifications for taking lives

    people become convinced that they are a righteous agent of divine justice

    but then, religious convictions fall into the mental health manual under delusional….


  1. Hero of the Week: February 8, Kathleen Sebelius and the Dept. of Health and Human Services « Central Oregon Coast NOW - February 8, 2013

    […] Hero of the Week: February 8, Kathleen Sebelius and the Dept. of Health and Human Services. […]

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