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  • Click to view ArtistMaasai's profile
    Posted December 15, 2013 by
    Los Angeles, California

    Why more mass shootings? Creating a real solution.


    What happens after each new shooting? Almost nothing - just alot of talk!

    No more advocacating for more advocacy.  As a nation we need people to actually particaipate in funding mental health care for the sick, since the states and government are not.


    My name is Maasai Rees-Tabari I am a professional artist writing to CNN concerning the profoundly serious subject of mental illness and all the aspects of mental illness that’s not included in the conversations on CNN. In my opinion, the stories being told are missing very important details of the patient’s experience, which is left out of all the pundit(s) discussions by most reporting news station networks. Most importantly, I’m writing to introduce a new foundation called the Artist Studio Café Foundation Mental Health Grant, an organization being established (by me and support of many others) to help to privately pay the medical costs for individuals at different levels of mentally illness.


    Artist Studio Café Foundation’s mission and main goal is to provide as many grants as possible allocating no less than 80% and up to 95% of revenue and donations for grant awards. The foundation will also receive regular funding through organization and individual donations. We need for people to know about what we plan to do helping the mentally ill from a patient centered perspective and hopefully join our efforts with donations, suggestions and/or participation. Each grant award will range from $5 up to $1500 per year based upon verified medical need for medications, medication management (a psychiatrist) and therapy/counseling (with facilities that have sliding scale).


    This year there has been frequent reporting on several stories of gun violence that bring to the forefront issues of mental illness and their relationship to the numerous mass shootings that have occurred in 2012 killing more than 150 people. Conversations have included the decrease in the number of state hospitals and hospital beds available to patients. The question of why treatment isn’t helping prevent these events must additionally be tackled until we have the best idea why and implement the resolution.


    My personal experience with chronic major depression denotes that individuals don’t want to hear about it. I have suffered from depression since age 3 and tried to commit suicide several times, twice recently (2012). Not one of my close friends or extended family called me or visited me in the hospital. I was finally able to be vocal about it in my mid-twenties, yet my closest friends are still uncomfortable with it, pretend it isn’t happening, don’t want to hear about dark thoughts; or provide support. When discussing it with them I still get the antiquated responses and comments, such as, you’re just spoiled (from my family), snap out of it or stop making excuses for your problems from my friends and partners.


    Rarely, after a person that they are feeling very depressed or suicidal actually has someone who’ll say let’s go together to see someone, call the doctor to make the appointment and escort them there, or to the hospital. Just suggesting it to a person isn’t enough. It’s far more important and effective to take action on their behalf, because often times it’s scary and hard enough to admit to yourself or anyone else that you’re experiencing something you can’t control. Being comfortable with the realization that your mind isn’t in your control is a long process of acceptance that doesn’t happen overnight (especially, by teenagers who are already insecure about themselves). This is fact, in most cities in the United States.


    After more than 20 years of therapy and too many emotionally abusive longterm relationships, I wasn't getting better, because in truth I didn't have access to the type of treatment I really needed. As a result, I have had a lifetime of suffering, I know personally the experience of many difficulties that come with managing my own issues with mental health care with insurance (that wouldn’t cover the care that I needed) and/or without insurance. I have been diagnosed with chronic depression, BPD, bipolar II and bipolar I, major depression; however, major depression and C-PTSD, is the most accurate diagnosis I have had. through research I came to that conclusion myself and had it confirmed by the first trauma therapist I had seen after my nearly successful suicide on January 3, 2012.


    For some reason it’s easier to keep pretending mental illness will just go away. Most don’t seem to really grasp and take into account that it’s has been affecting their lives indirectly - if not directly. The evidence is clear that the recent increase in mass shootings and the recent parental homicide are perpetrated by (mostly white middle class) young boys/men, as well as, the obvious increase in useless urban violence. The stigma behind mental illness really discourages a sick person (especially the young) from reaching out for help and/or fear that no one can relate to them when sharing how they feel.


    As a society we have experimented, locked up, abused, and typically ignored the sick of the mind. In reality, mentally illness must be treated thoroughly, which can require extensive care. The absence of understanding the symptoms and resulting behavior of the sick and the uneasiness of dealing with dark or aggressive thoughts is due to fear caused by ignorance; and continues to fuel the stigma associated with it. It’s a very serious illness and an issue that must be addressed.


    According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 552,000 mental health professionals. I honestly think it’s also time for clinicians who have gotten far to comfortable with a system that’s failing patients. This attitude isn’t acceptable anymore. Good mental health is good for businesses. I know from experience that most patients that have no one, has to learn to advocate for themselves and if you’re too sick you’re at the mercy of doctors who may or may not be making decisions that are really in your best interest. Medication is like an experiment and you have to speak up or get sicker. The foundation encourages patients to fight for their much-needed services, just like people with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS have done.


    Consistent revenue will be derived from the retail store cafe gallery. Advocacy information (administered locally) will be distributed and displayed in the café’s creative studio environment, and nationally via the foundation website. At the foundation café location there'll be a room/space (in-store) to host group meetings for speakers to talk about different related subjects, ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse), Depression Recovery, NAMI and many other groups.


    The foundation’s goal for advocacy is to have as many discussions about all aspects of mental health and illness until the surrounding community and our nation is so familiar that people let go of the myths and stop stigmatizing the sick and there families. Café guests can share their story and/or speak about on weekly topics (chosen by the foundation) and participate in open discussions pertinent to mental health issues affecting their lives in a comfortable stylish artsy café venue. As a nation, society’s ease with mental illness will evolve similar to old fears about cancer and AIDS; if not, many more people will continue to suffer and die.


    We want to develop the Artist Studio Café Foundation Mental Health grant to benefit the mentally ill nationwide in any and every way that helps people to maintain and achieve the best mental health.


    We are currently fundraising and I hope we get to our goal of $50,000 as soon as possible, to open (by summer 2014) and start awarding grants to sick people in need.

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