Dear Dr. Hwang:
“How might a possible government shutdown affect mental health care?”
According to CBS, San Francisco News (2013) a federal shut down of the United States Government is nothing to balk at. Nationally, approximately 1.4 million of the nation’s military will experience delayed pay. Elderly citizens applying for retirement for the first time will not have their applications processed until the shutdown is lifted. And, federal student loan programs will not be available, which are critical for students, nation wide.
Even the Food and Drug Administration is affected. The FDA is only going to review situations, which are considered a high risk. Federal programs we’ve come to rely on for safety, education, health care and financial relief will decrease.
The United States government, which we’ve come to count on, will remain inactive across a broad range of venues. Even childhood care facilities such as, Head Start, may not be able to receive renewed funding for the upcoming year. In addition, many federal government employees are greatly impacted by today’s government shutdown as well.
People affected are primarily working class individuals and people in from lower economic households. People living pay check to pay check, to meet basic needs such as: food, shelter, childcare and clothing are rightly concerned. In addition, federal contractors or workers will not be allowed to go to work or work from home. Over 800,000+ federal employees pay will stop today, waiting for the stalemate to end.
The facts however, do not underscore that real people, who are trying to make their day to day lives work are gravely and seriously affected. People we know personally and professionally, such as: neighbors, friends, colleagues and family members are left in the lurch wondering about the ambiguity of congress. This type of financial blow on the heels of an already troubled economy, lack of jobs, increased gas prices, higher unemployment could be a straw that breaks the camel’s back?
While Americans are psychologically resilient and work overwhelmingly long and hard hours, we can only take so much. It’s already challenging to maintain a budget to live off of, regarding basic needs. Because individuals, families and communities are unable to anticipate pay, it’s hard to plan for the future. It’s hard to know if we should fill our gas tanks or buy next week’s groceries? This level of stress can definitely take a toll on people and households.
While we hope it doesn’t last long and that there is little impact, the truth is that no one seems to know from Boehner to Obama? Eyes glued to the television we watch with trepidation to hear about our fate. How is it that some Americans have an abundant amount of resources, income and opportunities and some barely scrape by? Too often, politicians shimmy around questions with regard to poverty and wealth. Especially, during hard economic times and people are calling for help.
It’s difficult to experience a polarized perception of government that isn’t able to negotiate respectfully and without consideration to the American people. I would like to believe that we could look to our political leaders to inspire, guide and shape our futures. Right now, we are caught in a triangulated battle between house Democrats and the Republican Congress.
Emotionally and psychologically, ambiguity about money and politics is difficult to navigate. As humans, we like a certain degree of comfort and safety. The government shutdown hits us all in one-way or another. No one likes to be caught in a cross fire of political negotiations.
Meanwhile, we wait. People directly and immediately affected will cope differently. Sometimes, it brings communities together? Regardless, stress like this can feel like salt on an already infected wound. When there is pain, there is stress and discomfort. This is normal. We hope that the pain subsides and the financial wounds will heal.