MEDFORD, Ore. — Recent shootings across the U.S. have put gun control on the forefront of a national debate but these tragedies highlight a deeper issue that’s also being thrust into the spotlight.
Millions of people, children, professionals, the homeless, many truggle everyday to keep their life normal. One woman NewsWatch12’s Sharon Ko spoke with didn’t live with mental illness her entire life, a series of events in her life brought it on.
Debbie Garoote starts most of her days off the same way. Routine is key for Debbie because she suffers from schizoaffective disorder; living with someone else in her mind everyday.
“A combination between schizophrenia, which most people are familiar with, and bi-polar disorder. You kind of have symptoms of both of them,” Debbie explained. “Mine was voices that brought it to the schizophrenia disorder and bi-polar, I get really high mania to the point of psychotic.”
Debbie didn’t live with mental illness all her life.
“When I was in the service, I was assaulted in my barracks room by a fellow soldier and it kind of pushed me over the edge,” Debbie said.
The Veteran’s Administration supports Debbie with counseling and treatment.
“I have a few triggers, but I know what they are now and i can manage them pretty well,” said Debbie.
“We are so thankful that she gets help through the Veteran Administration,” said Debbie’s mother, Pat. “Because if that was not the case, I feel my daughter and I would probably be under the bridge, and probably homeless because the medicine costs so much. There is no way we could financially pay for that […] She is such an example of with the correct help, and she always didn’t get the correct help but where someone with mental illness, can progress and go on with their life.”
Debbie’s mother, as the President of the National Alliance On Mental Illness’ Southern Oregon Chapter, sees firsthand how many people are unable to get the help they desperately need.
“Very little options,” stated Pat. “They might be able to go to Jackson County Mental Health, if they’re on the Oregon Health Plan, or options for Southern Oregon in Josephine County if they’re on the Oregon Health Plan. If they’re not, they’re falling through the cracks.”
Pat Garoote receives numerous calls at her home. People need help for their loved ones and can’t get the proper care.
“I call it the vicious cycle,” said Pat. “People are picked up on the street, and brought to the emergency room. By the hospitals, by the police department, and they are seen and they are let go, and there is no place for them to go to get help in the future and some of them need that, some of them will need it longer than others, but there is no place for them to go.”
Stay with NewsWatch 12, for Part Two of Mental Health: Critical Care Wednesdayat 6:30 p.m. We’ll take a look at mental health from a law enforcement’s standpoint. Also, what services lack for the mentally ill in Oregon.