Letter to the Editor

This letter was deemed too lengthy by the editors so we trimmed it down.  You can read the revised letter here.


I submitted the following to the editors of North Dakota’s four largest newspapers.

Dear Editor

The Schulte Report begins with the sentence “The North Dakota mental health and substance abuse system is in crisis. “  This is a spot on descriptor of what many families are dealing with in the state of North Dakota.

Our young son has severe mental illness.

Now, we are being told that in order for him to gain access to continued services it is common practice for parents to give up custody to the state in order to facilitate immediate access to prescribed and necessary services.

Let me clarify that.

Two different psychiatrists told us that in order to facilitate care, we need to bring our son to the hospital, state that we can no longer care for him and give up custody of our son, in effect terminating our right to seek out mental health care for his needs.

How is this possible?  Shouldn’t the goal of any treatment, be the unity of family?  Our son is adopted and has been diagnosed with an attachment disorder.  This is one of many disorders that he has.  How does abandoning him to the state affect an already fragile personality?

We have insurance, in fact, our son has dual insurances.  He is covered by our policy through his mom’s employer, and he is covered by the state Medicaid system.  Yet, both of these systems can deny him coverage.  Coverage of services and medications that have been prescribed by his psychiatrist.
The hospital continually informs us that theirs is an acute care facility and refers us to outside agencies.  Those outside agencies are being hamstrung by insurance companies and the state Medicaid system.

Our son was discharged in January from residential care because he had “plateaued, and no further progress was being made.”  That was the ruling provided to the facility by the insurance company after numerous appeals to keep him there.

I get that mental health care is expensive.

I don’t understand how we have to come to a point in society where it is acceptable to recommend that a parent give up custody of their child in order to access health care that is needed and prescribed by a doctor.

Our state legislators had a chance to begin correcting the many issues that are detailed in the Schulte Report, yet chose not to do so, largely due to opposition from the House Leadership.

I am certain that ours is but one example of how badly broken this system of care is in our great state.  Let’s work together to change it.  Don’t our kids deserve the very best care?

You can obtain a copy of the Schulte Report through the Legislative Council.  The report was received by the Human Services Committee on July 22, 2014.