In my work as mental health support staff, every day I see Mainers who used to live independent lives and are working hard to regain that independence.

Some were struck by a vehicle. Others had a traumatic life event, like losing a child in a fire or an abusive relationship they could not escape. I’ve come to believe that we’re all just one tragic event away from needing serious mental health help.

Worrying about health care impacts people’s overall well-being, and the stress of exorbitant medical bills should not be the poor’s alone.

We all deserve the same chance to be healthy and to succeed. With the right support system and the right care, many cope. Without it, individuals on the brink often fall into systems of long-term dependence, or their health continues to deteriorate.

Inaccessible health care systems driven by profit, rather than our collective well-being, place a financial burden on our communities and lower the quality of life for many who live there.

While I am young, I choose to stand up for affordable, universal health care. I know that I will not always be able to rebound quickly from illness or to brush off a small injury. I will not always be able to claim coverage through my parents. I cannot afford the health care my workplace offers.

Taking care of each other is the right thing to do, and it also makes fiscal sense. The most devastating life events are the ones that we don’t see coming. When life happens, it shouldn’t just be the wealthy who have the means to get well.

Rebekah Hawley

Portland