10.10.2007

Bedlam Begins Thursday

Tomorrow morning, the staff of Olympia's only mental health provider, Behavioral Health Resources, are going on strike. They have over 3000 clients, for whom mental health services are a basic need. These clients will be left without their case management, counseling, medication management, and payee services(which means their rent can't get paid).
If you're going to have a breakdown any time soon, I'd recommend holding off or relocating to another county, as our hospital emergency rooms are not at all equipped to handle the number of people who will be left in need of mental health help. Indeed, mental health concerns will become inappropriately delegated to law enforcement, and we will find county jail being the closest thing to a mental health provider anyone in Thurston County is going to get.
The job of mental health workers is one of the most difficult jobs in our community. They handle crises that the police can't handle, and help people with medical issues that leave many doctors at a loss. Their education will not equip them to do their job well. They have to be knowledgeable, stable, resilient, creative, compassionate, and courageous in order to do their job well. If they don't do their job well, the consequences can be great.
But the management of BHR has been trying to keep their employees from getting a wage increase that was mandated by the state legislature. The reason for this spending increase was to improve mental health worker retention rates, which are abysmal. It was workers at BHR who lobbied the state for this budget increase, knowing that their employer would not be able to increase their wages without better funding. Not only has management refused, but they have misspent agency money to hire a union-busting law firm, and have been negotiating for a contract that would crush the workers ability to advocate for themselves.
Perhaps the poor worker retention rates at BHR have to do with more than the stress of the job. Perhaps they have to do with the stress of working under management who's priorities are so backwards that they should consider getting their own heads examined. Perhaps the problem is that John Masterson, CEO, is the most difficult and possibly the craziest person that any of the staff has to work with.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ms. Courtney said...

Jade,
Bring the blog back. You are What This Town Needs. And I wanted to refer the peeps on OPIUM to your list of how to improve Oly.
Courtney

8:21 AM  
Blogger Griffin said...

Yeah, you should write more :)

9:42 AM  

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