Change in Mental Health Code needed


This letter was written to Senator Carl Levin and Senator Debbie Stabenow and Representative Dan Benishek.

Dear members of Congress:

This is not an easy letter for me to write, but I truly believe that it is required as it may save the life of some other parent’s child in the future who was struggling with and being devoured by that nasty mental disease, mental depression.

My son Christopher Stewart Gifford suffered from severe mental depression for almost 10 years before killing himself on April 11 (late) or early on the 12th.

I am asking that the federal law be amended to permit dialogue from parent, spouse or legal guardian whether in writing or verbally to the patient’s social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist even though the patient has not signed the authorization form to authorize such one way dialogue. I am not seeking a two way dialogue to learn what the patient said to the social worker or vice versa what the social worker told the patient, but I truly believe that a parent, spouse or legal guardian must be a party to the triangle: patient, healthcare provider and parent and have input to the social worker etc., if public health care intends to save such person’s life. I truly believe that such information from a parent, etc., could provide the social worker with information that could help her or she treat the patient more fully and possibly put that patient back on the road of life.

Christopher was classified as disabled under our Social Security rules as of Oct. 17, 2005, but received no actual money until Oct. of 2008. Why such a long period of time is absurd and totally unrealistic! Christopher’s depression, I believe, began shortly after the divorce from his first marriage which lasted only four years, ending in 2002. The anti-depression medicines increased his weight by almost 50 percent which caused him to contract Diabetes Type 2 requiring more medicines and more reasons for depression to become more severe. As a result, he was visiting Family Outreach Center, Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich. which was the only one to my knowledge, and the one with whom I had contact in recent months, and for whom I was totally unhappy with as to their total lack of compassion and understanding of my concerns for my son, from a parent’s perspective!

…They hid behind the “privacy” provision of the Mental Health Code, I guess. How sad!

Can I expect some positive action?

Robert Gifford

Rapid River