Today I had a rare opportunity. I accompanied someone on a visit to the OU Medical Center Campus in Oklahoma City. Specifically the third floor of the G. Rainey Williams Pavillion-this is the area dedicated to psychiatry and behavioral sciences for children and adults. We walked through the heavy door and I immediately felt very uneasy, I felt like I had stepped into a movie setting the walls, floors and ceilings were all white. The check-in ladies were behind glass window across from an expansive desk. We were directed to a waiting room that was smaller than my living room with a dozen chairs, a table, a water dispenser and a coffee pot. The only decoration was a wooden hutch with glass that had some various old psychiatric medical tools and books. There were none of the comforts of the waiting rooms I have become accustomed to such as essential oils being diffused, comforting music, soothing paintings on the wall or windows with a glimpse of the outdoors. I live a very sheltered life. It was very clinical, I couldn't even find a picture online of a waiting room to compare it with. Just off the waiting room was a room where every patient had their vitals checked so the chairs were a merry go round.
I quickly realized that I couldn't hold my head up and look at the people coming in, I was afraid I was going to burst into tears. I kept myself involved with my coloring book and reading my book of the week. The clients who made up at least 80% of the steady stream revolving through were kids, young kids. Kids accompanied by their parents, kids who looked like they had experienced more difficulties in their short years than I've known in 48 years! The parents were tired, frustrated, and several were short with their kids. These parents were doing their best, getting their children mental health help. I have no idea what any of their stories were but it was a chilling and humbling experience. I didn't feel worthy to meet their eyes because I can't even comprehend the struggles in their lives. We need to quit stigmatizing those who are seeking mental health as less than or broken. These parents are struggling, trying to help their children. We need to make mental health readily available and as socially acceptable as the "gentleman's clubs" that seem to be okay with the masses. The help must be accessible, affordable and accepted socially.