When I first started writing this blog, there was a small fact that I knew but it didn’t register fully. When you publish a blog, everyone from anywhere can see it. The part that didn’t register fully was that some of that everyone from anywhere might actually read it, too. I have had some readers in foreign countries, and to those readers I say, “Thank you.”
What I am about to talk about primarily affects people in the United States. If you are impacted by this as well and you are from another country, I suggest you pray about taking action.
In the U.S., our mental health system is broken. Help for the mentally ill is sparse or sporadic at best for multiple reasons. This is especially personal to me because I am trained in the field and…I have a loved one suffering from mental illness.
It is heartbreaking to see someone go through this. It is even more heartbreaking to have someone drift away from you and not be able to do anything about it.
I have not asked you to do much in the past. Now, I am asking…or more like begging, you to help. Please write your respective politicians and ask them to change the laws. This has gone on long enough. What I have below is a sample of the letters I have been sending. You are welcome to copy and paste from it. I just want you to help me change this.
“Dear Mr./Mrs. ________,
My name is (your name). I am writing in relation to the mental health laws in the state of (your state) and the U.S. The mental health system in the state and our nation is broken. I believe improvements are needed. My (friend, loved one, spouse) is suffering from mental illness in the form of (disorder name). He/She has lack of insight (or some other symptom) into his/her illness (he/she thinks he/she is ok). He/She will not take medications or seek treatment on his/her own, so it has to be forced upon him/her. The laws are written to keep that from happening in a reasonable manner. Violence typically has to happen before medications are forced, therefore bringing unnecessary harm and trauma to families in some cases. There has got to be a better way to move towards forced medications that doesn’t infringe upon the patient’s rights much, and giving families hope their loved one can recover.
The Treatment advocacy center recommends these improvements for (your state, the ones below are for Texas):
1)”Stop eliminating public psychiatric beds,
Restore a sufficient number of beds to create access to inpatient care for qualifying individuals in crisis,
2) Make active use of the state’s civil commitment laws to provide more timely treatment to individuals in need of treatment for symptoms of psychiatric crisis and reduce the consequences of non-treatment on them, their families and their communities”.
I agree with these. I would like to see these changes as well:
1) In cases where there is poor insight into illness (“I’m not Sick”) can easily be diagnosed, initiate a mandatory 7 to 14 day outpatient commitment with first admission or with Mental Health Detention Warrants after discharge. Somebody has to go to the residence, though. This will help them get ongoing treatment.
2) Make mental health (especially the schizophrenia family of disorders, they have a biological component) equal with standard medical insurance, and audit insurance companies to insure they are not getting through loopholes to avoid paying psychiatric claims.
3) Make the doctors take into account police records/sheriff’s department records in their diagnosis process. Most schizophrenia related disorders have a component of the diagnosis which requires 6 months of active psychiatric treatment. If they would take into account the law enforcement records, they would have a broader range to work with. They could take a couple of months off the required time. Something to speed up the diagnosis process to aid in early detection.
4) Initiate immediate and mandatory across the board training for all the MHMR (or state run mental health programs) facilities and all the other mental health facilities to get all their wording/language on the same page. Make sure that what one department tells a family is the same or lines up with what another department says.
5) For any psychiatric incident (mental health detentions/warrants, etc.), assign someone to educate the families about the process their loved one will go through and what it takes to get someone committed on the criminal and civil side…and make them follow up and repeat it several times. People in these crises are flooded with information when the incident happens and they forget half of it until later.
[This one is for Texas only, but if it works…use it.] 6) Texas has Adult Protective Services, but it should be titled “Senior Adult Protective Services” because that is all they serve unless there are extenuating circumstances. Please consider creating an agency that actually serves young and middle adults.
Please consider these.
One other thing, I want the insurance companies to PAY for what they have done to this country and mental health. Not necessarily money (even though it would be nice). I want them hit somewhere else. Somewhere that it will really hurt.
Your frustrated, angry, heartbroken, constituent,
You don’t have to use all of this. You can copy and paste segments that are important to you. But, please help me with this. The poor insight thing is a big deal. If they don’t ask for help, it is very hard to get them help. If it is not caught early, people who suffer from this illness often end up in jail or homeless. So please help. Email your governor, your senators, your representatives…anybody writing these laws so we can begin to help people instead of throw them away. #schizophrenia
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