A Bangor man who spent years working in healthcare has formed a small committee urging lawmakers to stop brain disorder discrimination.
Joe Pickering Jr. said Maine’s approach to illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse are being devalued and more community services should be made available.
Pickering spent more than 30 years in healthcare and said our society, our local government, and the nation as a whole need to stop separating mental, physical, and behavioral health from one another because he said the head and the body work as one.
“All of our illnesses get impacted from our head to our body. There is no such thing as physical and mental illness. It’s all one,” Pickering said.
Pickering watched his son, Christopher, a gifted basketball player, fight schizophrenia for years.
Christopher passed away in a fatal house fire in 2020, but Pickering said the son he knew died years before that.
He said more funding is needed for community health services for those with brain disorders like his son.
Jeanne Gore, who is a member of the Truth Tear Down This Wall Committee and the coordinator with the National Shattering Silence Coalition, agreed.
“As many as 80 percent of those with substance use disorder, or SUD, have a co-occurring brain disorder. That is the sad reality,” she said.