Having lost her father, I can understand the message Zelda – the daughter – sent to the world.
Her message was: “Seek treatment”
For many people it is considered shameful to accept that a mental illness like depression have taken control of their lives.
Seeking treatment is a great step.
Here in Denmark there is another issue to consider apart from accepting depression as something you need treatment for.
You also have to consider if this acceptance will cost you your future and the future for your children.
To understand this I have to explain you how our healthcare system works.
If you suffer from a physical illness as a child you get treated at a hospital. If you suffer from a mental illness requiring in-patent treatment you are often treated at a group home specialized in this illness because schooling during the treatment is an issue.
The group homes are owned privately. The hospitals are owned by the state. The stay at these specialized group homes are financed by the social services. Only the most severe cases are treated in mental hospitals and their task is only to stabilize the child until a group home can take over.
The present law allows the social services to investigate whether the parents have some part in making the child sick. It made sense to bill parents if they made the choice to put a sick child into this world, which would cost the society a lot of money. They had to find a replacement for the Eugenics strategies of the past where people suffering from mental illnesses were prevented from reproducing by being operated having their reproducing organs removed. This practice in Denmark stopped around 1967. Today there is a law where the social services can medicate people against their will so they cannot reproduce if they suffer from heavy mental illnesses.
Depression is not considered severe. However it can be a burden for the society if a parent comes home from treatment not entirely cured and inflict the pattern of the illness on the children. It is of course not something the parent want to do, but the patients are often released too soon because there is a shortage of beds in the treatment system, to the treatment continue back home where the home is invaded by employees from both the hospital and the social services organizing further out-patient treatment. The home is slowly transformed into a kind of semi hospital settings.
This involuntary infection of the children is something the family can be fined for. If the children starts suffering from depression which requires in-patient treatment before the children are 21, the parents will be slapped with a monthly fine. The age of majority is 18 in Denmark but infecting your children with poor genes so they easy start suffering from a costly mental illness is considered a serious crime in Denmark, so the three extra years is a clear message for everyone who either suffers from a mental illness while they have children or even before they get children.
So here is the message from the state of Denmark to a person suffering from depression who have children: “Seek treatment and we will bitch-slap you with fines so heavily that not even your children will dare to have children on their own.”
Is it fair? No. But it is cheaper for the society if the patient decide to check out from life early rather than infecting their children with a mental illness.
- Robin Williams’s Daughter, Zelda, Urges Others to Seek Help on World Mental Health Day (People)
- The present law (In Danish)