Huntsville dad: it took 3 months to get appointment for daughter with mental health issues

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 9:19 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Time and time again, we’re seeing people take their own lives, killed by police, or take another life.

Often it circles back to mental health.

And some people say the resources are lacking in Alabama.

Three months: that’s how long Richard Browning says it took to get his daughter, who struggles with mental health issues, an appointment with a psychiatrist.

“I thought going to Huntsville Hospital I’d be able to get a referral for a psychiatrist and they were not able to give me a referral. I got a list from Huntsville Hospital counselor, and the words “good luck,’” Browning said.

He says call after call would lead to a dead end.

“The biggest challenge has been non responsiveness. Some of the challenges are some are not accepting new patients, some are not accepting insurance. And without insurance, the cost of psychiatric care can be prohibitive,” he explained.

He was able to secure an appointment for his daughter this week, but Browning says there needs to be some serious improvement when it comes to mental health resources.

“My daughter was in crisis and I was doing everything I could to help her, and I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. As a dad it sucks, but as somebody who cares about the mental health of the people in our community, feeling like we don’t have adequate resources in our city, makes me hurt for so many people who don’t have the ability to get the care they need,” Browning said.

Browning says better access to care could prevent a lot of tragedies.

“If we can’t get people to help before it reaches a crisis stage, then I think we’re going to continue to see stories that you see on the news, like the unfortunate story in Decatur or the story in Five Points.”

Malissa Valdes-Hubert with the Alabama Department of Mental Health says there has been a shortage of mental health professionals in the state for quite some time.

“When you’re at your wits end with someone you love, you think ‘I just need an answer right now, I need it right now.’ But it does take time to find the right resource,” Valdes-Hubert said.

Valdes-Hubert says if you’re struggling to get an appointment or find the right resource, give them a call.

“You can call our department and speak to one of us and we can try to help as well. That advocate will help you. That’s exactly what they do. They advocate for you to find help,” she said.

That number is: 334-242-3454 / 800-367-095.

Valdes Hubert wants to remind everyone there are 24/7 crisis numbers for every county in the state.

She also adds, NAMI is a great support group, and people struggling with substance abuse should seek help as well.

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