You’ve no doubt heard that the mental health care system in the U.S. is broken. You’ve probably experienced that for yourself. But have you heard what John Oliver had to say about it? On August 1, on Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” program, the comedian/commentator devoted a full 25 minutes to examining the flaws that plague mental health care.
During the broadcast, Oliver presented appalling statistics (some of which even I had never heard before) and clips of interviews with participants in the mental health system, including people who have been affected by it, practitioners, and insurance executives. With his trademark sardonic humor, exasperated outrage, and comic zingers, Oliver deftly skewered the insurance industry and remote mental health companies, among other targets.
It was an enlightening and satisfying performance.
Here are some of the highlights.
Oliver started with a flashback from the 1950s of women entering a beauty parlor (!) to receive makeovers that were supposed to solve their mental problems. “I don’t know what’s more alarming there — nurses being forced to take on the skills of a Sephora brand ambassador or the fact that ‘can make-up cure sad?’” Then he tackled the PSA on mental illness stigma featuring Harrison Ford, which was designed to make discussions of mental health “cool and trendy” and dissed the gallbladder for some reason.
Next, he went through some stats on why such a PSA was necessary – the lack of access to mental health care, particularly since “for every 10 clinicians entering work in mental health clinics there, 13 leave. And if we continue at that rate, one day, we’re going to wind up with negative therapists.”
Oliver noted that nearly 85% of all psychologists are white, and ran an
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