(Editor’s note: As I mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of speaking at the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club today. A moving speech against the tactics of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign was given by Judge Bill Henderson. Although readers will be unable to see the passion with which Judge Henderson delivered this speech, I asked him if I could republish it in full for you.)
First and foremost I want to tell you that what I am saying today is my opinion and I am not speaking for my employer, County Judge Ed Emmett. I have reason to believe that he will agree with a lot of what I am saying, but I want to make it clear that I am not speaking for him.
The issue of mental health has been put in play by the Dewhurst campaign. The accusation that Sen. Patrick sought treatment for depression 30 years ago and had to be hospitalized is despicable. It does not matter whether it was Commissioner Patterson or Gov. Dewhurst who made the accusation, the Dewhurst campaign has sought to benefit from the accusation. I personally believe it has backfired on the Dewhurst campaign because there are so many of us who have personally been treated for depression or have had close family members that were treated. In fact, I believe Sen. Patrick should be congratulated for seeking medical treatment for a medical condition and then following the advice of his doctors.
It made me angry that Gov. Dewhurst would do this. He has been an ardent supporter of increased resources for treating mentally ill Texans and to do what he has done is beyond inconceivable. But it was not until I read Susan Fordice’s article in yesterday’s Deer Park Broadcaster that i realized why I was so angry. I have placed copies of Ms. Fordice’s article on every table and anybody who doesn’t get one, I have more with me.
Let me read one paragraph in her article:
Stigma is a powerful and unnecessary deterrent to care for a person experiencing symptoms of a mental health concern. it is especially important for not only our families and friends, but also the media, elected officials, and others in leadership positions to view and to portray people with mental health issues sensitively and realistically; and to challenge the use of stigmatizing language which is common, often accepted and rarely questioned.
I am here today to challenge the use of stigmatizing language by the Dewhurst campaign. We are not talking about discouraging good people to run for public office because they have sought treatment for mental illness, although that may be one consequence. More importantly, we are continuing the stigmatization of seeking treatment for mental illness. Those veterans who come home from the battlefield who feel like they will be less of a person for seeking treatment. Or the mother who suffers from post partum depression but doesn’t believe she should seek treatment. We as a society owe it to those who are suffering from depression, whether temporarily or permanently, to encourage them to seek treatment. Senator Patrick has always included people who are unable to take care of themselves as one of the four groups that the government must care for and that is just part of the 80% that Sen. Patrick and I agree upon. To show him and others that I support individuals who seek medical treatment for their depression, he will get my support in this election. I thought I would probably support Gov. Dewhurst but I must make this statement.