I am not sure where the privatization issue now stands in light of the Governor signing HB 228 separating the Human Resources Dept. into three separate agencies, but if it is still being considered, I would like to add the following.
While privatization might be the easy way to go, it is not the right way. We have the opportunity to make our mental health system one of the best in the country if we would look beyond the same old way of doing things.
I am only familiar with the grounds at Georgia Regional in Decatur where acres and acres of lawn are mowed each day. With the current interest in gardening (families as well as Mrs. Obama's garden on the White House grounds) why not, instead of mowing, till the grounds and plant vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, etc., giving the patients the chance to work in the gardens and do something worthwhile, something they would feel good about. The savings generated by growing their own food, as well as healthier eating, would be added benefits. With all of the gardeners in the Atlanta area, I believe help in getting this project started would be in abundance.
My daughter is currently in the forensic unit at Georgia Regional in Decatur, and it seems for most of the day she constantly walks, having "walked" through a pair of tennis shoes in less than 6 months. She needs something constructive to do, which along with medication and counseling would help her get well faster. Which should be the whole point of her being there.
I know it is hard to be sympathetic to those with mental illness (especially if you don't have any personal experience with someone who is sick). But I believe if we could all live inside the head of a mentally ill person for 24 hours and see what they have to go through each day just to get by, we would want to do all we could to help them get well.
My daughter did nothing to deserve this illness. She didn't smoke, drink or take drugs. She worked hard, bought a house, got a dog and cat, and donated to every cause that asked. She deserves the best treatment, and I believe we have the opportunity to do that for her and all of the others institutionalized in Georgia's facilities.