Stephen "tWitch" Boss' tragic death highlights the importance of mental health


A prominent celebrity named Stephen “tWitch” Boss of the Ellen DeGeneres Show took his life at 40. Boss’ contagious love of dancing, carefree spirit, and milewide grin brought joy to millions. From the outside looking in, we saw a gentle soul – a successful actor and dancer with a wife and three children.

Just days before his passing, Boss shared a joyful video on social media of him dancing with his wife. His shocking death is yet another sobering reminder that mental illness is a disease that insulates people – even those known and loved by many.

As a practicing physician associate/assistant (PA) for over 20 years, my ever-present fear is that one of my patients or my loved ones is suffering in silence and, like Boss, hiding pain and hurt behind a beautiful and warm exterior. I expect that my colleagues in the health care community share this fear. We continually ask ourselves what more we can do to help break the stigma associated with mental illness to ensure those who are hurting so much are never afraid to seek help.

Today, an estimated 158 million Americans lack adequate mental health care access. The human beings behind this astounding figure are our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Mental illness is a disease that does not discriminate and ravages families and communities across the country. On average, the delay between when a patient first experiences mental illness symptoms and when they receive treatment is an astounding 11 years. We must close this gap – and do so quickly.

In every state across the country, patient demand for mental health services outpaces provider supply. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, many states, including where I reside in Illinois, lag behind the rest of the nation in meeting the behavioral health needs of its residents. To meet the national need, our country needs another 8,000 practitioners. And with the current health care workforce shortage, that won’t happen anytime soon.

However, securing more mental health care workers is not – and cannot be – our only call to action. Our health care workforce must be fully empowered and mobilized to meet the growing demand for mental health services. Every member of today’s modern health care team must be allowed to practice to the full extent of their education, training, and experience, or else we will continue to struggle to meet patients where they are.

With more than 500 million patient interactions annually, America’s PAs have the necessary experience in primary care and many settings, including emergency rooms, to diagnose and treat anxiety, depression, and more severe mental illnesses. However, many patients may not realize they can discuss their mental health concerns with a PA or another care provider outside a mental health care setting. I want all patients to know that all providers, including PAs, are here for you – and we’re listening.

While we recognize there is no single or easy solution to the mental health crisis, we also recognize it is time for each of us to turn words into actions now.

Action starts with each of us! Provider or otherwise, I encourage each of you to take the time to reach out to your colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones. Check on them. Talk to them. Ask them if they are ok.

And on behalf of our patients, our families, our friends, and our communities, I urge policymakers to act now to ensure every health care provider can meet the needs of their patients by being allowed to practice to the fullest extent of their license.

Sometimes, all it takes is one conversation to save one person’s life. We must stop talking about what to do and take action.

Jennifer M. Orozco is a physician assistant.

lisa1 lisa2 lisa3 lisa4 lisa5 lisa6 lisa7 lisa8 lisa9 lisa10 lisa11 lisa12 lisa13 lisa14 lisa15 lisa16 lisa17 lisa18 lisa19 lisa20 lisa21 lisa22 lisa23 lisa24 lisa25 lisa26 lisa27 lisa28 lisa29 lisa30 lisa31 lisa32 lisa33 lisa34 lisa35 lisa36 lisa37 lisa38 lisa39 lisa40 lisa41 lisa42 lisa43 lisa44 lisa45 lisa46 lisa47 lisa48 lisa49 lisa50 lisa51 lisa52 lisa53 lisa54 lisa55 lisa56 lisa57 lisa58 lisa59 lisa60 lisa61 lisa62 lisa63 lisa64 lisa65 lisa66 lisa67 lisa68 lisa69 lisa70 lisa71 lisa72 lisa73 lisa74 lisa75 lisa76 lisa77 lisa78 lisa79 lisa80 lisa81 lisa82 lisa83 lisa84 lisa85 lisa86 lisa87 lisa88 lisa89 lisa90 lisa91 lisa92 lisa93 lisa94 lisa95 lisa96 lisa97 lisa98 lisa99 lisa100 lisa101 lisa102 lisa103 lisa104 lisa105 lisa106 lisa107 lisa108 lisa109 lisa110 lisa111 lisa112 lisa113 lisa114 lisa115 lisa116 lisa117 lisa118 lisa119 lisa120 lisa121 lisa122 lisa123 lisa124 lisa125 lisa126 lisa127 lisa128 lisa129 lisa130 lisa131 lisa132 lisa133 lisa134 lisa135 lisa136 lisa137 lisa138 lisa139 lisa140 lisa141 lisa142 lisa143 lisa144 lisa145 lisa146 lisa147 lisa148 lisa149 lisa150 lisa151 lisa152 lisa153 lisa154 lisa155 lisa156 lisa157 lisa158 lisa159 lisa160 lisa161 lisa162 lisa163 lisa164 lisa165 lisa166 lisa167 lisa168 lisa169 lisa170 lisa171 lisa172 lisa173 lisa174 lisa175 lisa176 lisa177 lisa178 lisa179 lisa180 lisa181 lisa182 lisa183 lisa184 lisa185 lisa186 lisa187 lisa188 lisa189 lisa190 lisa191 lisa192 lisa193 lisa194 lisa195 lisa196 lisa197 lisa198 lisa199 lisa200 lisa201 lisa202 lisa203 lisa204 lisa205 lisa206 lisa207 lisa208 lisa209 lisa210

By olaksjl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.