I am sure that throughout this new blog, I will be sharing entries that describe pieces of our current mental health system that simply are not working for those who it is supposedly meant to serve. Here are just a few concerns I have right off the bat:
- I have worked with high school aged students who were suicidal and have had to wait for a bed in a facility for three weeks. Not only is this tragic for the young man, but imagine being his parents, crossing your fingers each day and each morning, just hoping your child is still alive.
- I have met at least one man who needed immediate care who had to travel more than seventy miles outside of the city in order to get a bed in a facility. How is that person to see loved ones for support?
- In my own case, I go to a behavioral health clinic that charges a patient for any missed appointment and will not see them again if they have missed two (consecutive?) appointments. How does this serve patients (some of the most vulnerable people) who have a mental illness, many of whom struggle to get out of bed or leave their house? Unfortunately, I do not believe this policy is outside of the norm.
- At my intake meeting at a partial hospitalization program, I went through a three-hour or so intake meeting. After this meeting, I was given a diagnosis and a regimen of medicine. This was the first time these staff members had ever met me. I had a mental illness. Who knew if I was even answering the questions honestly or correctly? Many mental illness significantly impact memory, cognition, judgement, and much more. Many patients may be incapable of answering correctly and others may be fearful of being honest, particularly with questions such as, “Do you hear voices?” or “How much alcohol do you drink?”. Patients may then be given an incorrect diagnosis and put on meds that, in the worst case scenario, could be detrimental to their actual illness. As a bare minimum, I believe that patients should be requested to bring a loved one or someone who knows the patient very well. Of course, such a person may not be available, but the recommendation should certainly be made. In my case, I was very thankful to have brought my wife, who corrected many of my responses for me.
These are just a few of the concerns that I have. We need a system that truly serves the patients for whom the system was developed.
As always, comments to any of my blog posts are welcomed and encouraged. Thank you.