This was originally published on Liberal America on April 26, 2016.
Ohio Governor John Kasich is a Republican currently running for president. He also spent 18 years in Congress where he rose to lead the House Budget Committee. He has defended his decision to expand Medicaid by saying that it helps people get the mental health care they need.
He is probably the only candidate that has asked a crowd, “Do you know what it’s like to live with depression?”
Mr. Kasich is one of the few politicians that will admit they know about this topic. His brother, Richard, is 59-years-old and has struggled with depression since he was in college. He has been hospitalized a few times and receives disability payments for his mental illness.
Rick Kasich once hoped to be a lawyer, but he suffered a breakdown whilst in school. He worked at Wendy’s for a while where he washed dishes. After getting diagnosed with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, he worked for the Post Office for almost twenty years loading mail trucks.
The candidate seems to be using this experience to show he has empathy. But, his brother may disagree with that. The brothers did not speak for almost twenty years. They reconciled a decade ago, but their exchanges are still testy.
Today, we have better means of dealing with mental illnesses with young people. These diseases often strike in young adulthood; we have more national resources to help. We need to keep fighting the stigma!
Rick Kasich has said that John has very little to do with him, and he doesn’t mention Rick on the campaign trail. Here is part of a statement that the John Kasich campaign sent on his behalf:
“We love Rick deeply and have shared the struggles that his disease brings with it. As families with a loved one living with mental illness know, you take it one day at a time, and some days are better than others.”
“In the process, we have all become sensitive to and supportive of the needs of those living with this disease. Among the ways we support him is by working hard to protect his privacy, and we hope others respect that also.”
We need a presidential candidate that can understand the needs of those that suffer from mental illnesses. John has angered other Republicans by saying he will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. He says it will help people get the treatment they need, and it could help for the tens of thousands of mentally ill people in prisons. I still don’t like him, but this gives him some cool points in my book.