The Seriousness Of Serious Mental Illnesses

I’m not a big one for the idea of ‘the invalidated’ ones patiently (Get it?) assuming the stance of an ‘invalid’ toward their chances of ever getting over it (their ‘invalid’ status), and going on, and making a decent life of it (the shambles that has been made of their lives). Hey, if you don’t need a wheelchair, get up, grab a partner, and dance around the room. (Even if you do need a wheelchair, join the party, and you might be able to show us some incredible moves on it [your wheelchair].)

Unfortunately, mine is a minority viewpoint. The notion of spontaneous recovery, and I have heard the term used, has not gained universal acceptance yet. When it comes to ‘serious mental illness’, perhaps you’ve read some of the literature on the subject. It may take a person years and years of drilling to do so, but eventually the person will get the message, the maggot! This leaves years and years of obstacles and setbacks on this person’s individual road to recovery.

Right!….Institutions, state mental hospitals, were once found to be academies for ‘learned helplessness’, and the situation has somewhat improved in that now these same institutions would be teaching ‘mental wellness’. I just wonder, is it the teaching material or is it the students? Either we’ve got inadequate instructors, and textbooks with loads of errors, or we’ve got incredibly dense students. Flunkies, in fact, but maybe we’d better not go there.

Well, part of the problem resides in the fact that before you can learn ‘how to be well’ you must learn ‘how to be sick’. I have yet to encounter a How To book on Sickness. Hey, look! When you can build a sickness, then you’ve got the matter licked. Sickness can be deconstructed. This idea presents a number of problems for other people that it doesn’t present for me. There must be a ‘helplessness’ manual around here somewhere, all I need is a glance at it.

Why so gloomy then? Why, of course, you’re learning, aren’t you?

Hospital Closure Protested

The hospital in Massachusetts that was the issue the other day in The Coming Challenge post below was Westborough State Hospital in Westborough, Massachusetts. Now I need to set the matter straight. I certainly don’t want to give anybody the slightest impression that I am for keeping this hospital open.

This comes up every time a hospital is threatened with closure. Employees have a great deal to do with why there are still state hospitals in this country today. You may think that hospitals revolve around their patients, but this is a mistake, they don’t revolve around their patients at all. They revolve around their employees. When they close, the concern is always about loss of jobs and revenue for the local economy.

At this one, employees have a union, and a group of employees and family members protested yesterday. That’s the other group hospitals benefit, families. These families, after all, got rid of the problem or burdensome member of their clan.

My point is this—you never see mental patients or ex-mental patients protesting to keep a hospital open. Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Maybe it has something to do with forced treatment?

This matter is also about losing the employees earlier rather than later you are going to lose anyway when you release some of these patients back into their communities. Release enough patients, and, of course, you will need to get rid of some employees, too.

The hospital was slated for closure in 2012. This protest is over a plan to accelerate this closure. A new hospital is being built. It opens in 2012. The new hospital will be in Worchester. Get it?

Personally, I wouldn’t build a new hospital. I would put all my money into prevention and community resources instead.

Have you taken your pill yet, honey!

A Pharmacy Europe (Add laugh track here.) article reports approval appears near for a new psychiatric drug. This article then claims the new drug a safe and effective treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

1. Where have we heard this kind of thing before?
2. For both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? How convenient.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that Saphris, from health care firm Schering-Plough, appears to be as safe as other drugs in the class, known as atypical antipsychotics. The regulator, however, has not yet reached a final decision on the drug.

We have a wee problem here, ladies and gentlemen, as safe as other drugs that have proven very unsafe is not safe. People labeled mentally ill are dying 25 years earlier than the rest of the population, and atypical antipsychotic drugs have a great deal to do with why this is so.

According to the article, a panel of ‘independent experts’ (Add laugh track here.) in the field of psychiatry will vote on whether the Federal Food and Drug Administration should approve the drug. The agency, although not bound to do so, usually follows the advice of such panels.

Schering-Plough held four studies into the effects of Saphris on schizophrenia patients. Two of the studies produced positive results, according to the FDA. It also studied the drug in two trials of bipolar patients, both of which showed positive results.

In 2 out of 4 studies–That’s 50%, isn’t it? Interesting. Notice, if you will, who is doing the research, and consider, if you will, 50/50. Them ain’t good odds! Also, note that they want to approve the drug for use on ‘bipolar patients’, and thus circumvent complaints of ‘off label’ prescribing.

The drug’s most common side effects emerged as sleepiness, restlessness, dizziness and weight gain.

Okay. So a patient will be nodding off all the time, perhaps in a zombified state. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? For restlessness, google ‘akathasia’. Oh, and you might google ‘acute akathasia’ and ‘tardive akathasia’ while you’re at it. This dizziness? That can’t be good. Excessive weight gain comes with a number of the newer atypical antipsychotic drugs. A slew of health conditions, all life shortening, are associated with excessive weight gain. I think we’ve heard much about a number of health complications associated with this drug. Now how is this drug safe?

And just in case you were wondering, folks, here’s the clincher…

If approved, Saphris would enter the market occupied by already established products such as AstraZeneca’s Seroquel and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa, both of which are already approved for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Speaking of which, didn’t the FDA approve the powerful antipsychotic drug Abilify for use in cases of depression awhile back. Turn on the television now, and ‘if nothing else works’, etc., you have Abilify. With these advertisements, Bristol-Myers profits have gone through the ceiling. Of course, when it comes to profits and corporate interests, we cannot stop there…

Well, here’s another one, folks! Soon to be appearing at a pharmacy near you: Saphris.

“I don’t think we’re in Marlboro Country anymore, Toto.” (Camera pans a graveyard.)

The Coming Challenge

This I get from an op-ed piece, We Can Do Better For The Mentally Ill, by James Brent and Mary Lou Sudders, in The Boston Globe:

Today, the goal of the more than 700,000 Massachusetts citizens living with mental illness is recovery.

Whoa! I’m wondering, did you take a vote?

My suspicion is that no vote was taken, and that this is merely a statistic bearing on the number of citizens reported to be living in Massachusetts with a mental illness.

Alright, now to my next question; do you mean full and complete recovery, or do you mean recovery that is not recovery, or partial recovery?

Regarding this partial recovery, I don’t care if it’s a matter of degrees, I just think it’s also somewhat of a joke. You’ve got, and you will always have, people who have not recovered, but who are ‘in recovery’, when they kick the bucket.

Uh, it’s not a non-sense word I’m after. I want to see that 700,000 numerical figure become a lesser figure.

Here’s this Boston Globe article about needing money for community care, and that so that we can close this state hospital. Hey, we all know the economy is having a hard time, and when the economy is having a hard time, social services are going to take a hit.

I’m all for closing hospitals and utilizing community resources instead, the thing this op-ed piece seems to be about, but I want to point out some of the broken aspects of our treatment practices these days.

Community care is cheaper, and it has a great deal of potential. That’s what this article and the argument it seems to make have going for it. You also though have the potential of going from warehousing people in state hospitals to warehousing them in the community. I don’t think warehousing people is such a great thing.

Funding is only part of the issue. Funding for what? Do we waste money on ineffectual treatment programs, or do we pay for treatment programs that work to get people out of the Mental Illness System?

Social security is going to collapse in a few years, too, according to reports from some quarters. On top of that gloomy forecast, the tab for our public insurance companies, Madicaid and Madicare, must be whoppers.

Once people are moved from the total institution of the State Hospital, how do we move them up and out of the Mental Health ghettoes they get stuck in within the communities where they reside?

This is the challenge lying beyond the challenge of deinstitutionalization. I’ve seen the challenge for some time now, and I’m hoping a few more people can get a grip on it.

People talk about stigma, and not to get bogged down on the scriptural elements of the matter, I think what they mean is prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice and discrimination stand in the way of mounting this challenge.

I want it to be known that this challenge is not going to be tackled by ex-patients, consumers, professionals, and even their relations, alone. The destruction of the Mental Health ghetto can only come about with community support and help. I hope this fact is understood also.

Another factor that stands in the way of mounting this challenge is the over reliance conventional psychiatry has developed on brain disabling drugs, but this debacle is bound to become more and more obvious as time drags on.

Psychiatry, Brain Damage, and Oppression

Psychiatry does not treat brain disease. No, a neurologist does that. Alright, so if we are dealing with disordered thought processes, rather than diseased brains, what does that tell us? Thinking wrong thoughts is a disorder? Be careful how you answer this one because the thought police could be listening in.

The definition of Oppression is: 1. the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. 2. an act or instance of oppressing. 3. the state of being oppressed. 4. the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.

From Oppression Wikipedia

4. internalized oppression = learned helplessness (& can arise where the subject oppresses him or herself.)

First there is the matter of taking away a persons freedom because that persons has annoyed somebody else. There is always some question as to whether the old adage “children should be seen not heard” always applies, and remember, we are not necessarily dealing with children here. We could be dealing with adults.

The problem with civil commitment proceedings is that these matters are seen as civil matters rather than criminal matters, and thus the burden of proof is less than it is in a criminal case. No one need prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ anything. No, all you need is ‘substantial evidence’.

Hearsay evidence is much more acceptable in civil court than it is in criminal court, as are kangaroo jurors, especially when you don’t have 12 jurors. You have a hearing. The condemned is lead into a room with a court appointed kangaroo lawyer to face a kangaroo judge. The psychiatric staff at the psychiatric prison at which he or she is being held are considered the kangaroo experts.

As can be seen, there might be a few due process kinks in our legal system we haven’t straightened out yet.

The poisons used to treat psychiatric inmates, not only inhibit obnoxious behaviors, these poisons kill brain cells, and they can even, eventually, make a case for the neurologist mentioned previously. These poisons will eventually kill the inmate, although the length of time it takes for this to happen can vary. If the inmate has been railroaded into treatment (ie. involuntarily commited), the inmate will be assaulted, and given the poison introvenously (usually via a needle in a butt cheek), if the inmate won’t take his or her poison ‘voluntarily’.

Another form of treatment sometimes used is ‘electro-shock convulsive therapy’. This treatment involves sending currents of electricity through the brain. The brain is the organ of thought, and the executive command center of the human body. You cannot send electrical charges through the brain without some loss of brain cells. The most obvious indication of this loss of gray matter is memory loss. In shock treatment there is always memory loss. Some people submit to this precedure voluntarily, but there are others who have been, and are still being, forced against their will and wishes to lose brain tissue in this fashion.

This electricity is sent through the brain of the psychiatric prison inmate in electro-shock therapy in order to induce a seizure. The head trauma brought on by this electric shock induced seizure is thought to have a curative, or a corrective, effect on the psychiatric prison inmate.

People with epilepsy have seizures, too. Lots and lots of money is being spent every year to find a cure for epilepsy. Why? Seizure’s are very unpleasant experiences, and they kill brain cells. What are psychiatric inmates given before a treatment that epileptics aren’t given before a seizure? Anesthesia. Ironic, isn’t it? That medical pseudo-science should be trying to induce what medical science is trying to eliminate. Oh, but the psychiatric prison inmate is kept under sedation so maybe the experience isn’t so unpleasant.

I don’t believe the theory behind the treatments involved here presupposes people with mental disorders have larger brains than other people, and so I don’t think these treatments are implemented to expend surplus brain cells. On the other hand, if there are any potential Albert Einsteins or Leonardo DeVincis out there, you might want to give the matter a little thought.

I think we are beginning to see here how mental health treatment (ie. psychiatry) is a form of oppression.

Wallflowers Don’t Vote

I’ve heard of mental health consumers and ex-patients who turn away with scorn from politics. I’ve even heard of supposed mental health advocates who claim not to like politics, or who don’t want to dirty their hands with political actions. I don’t see how anybody can imagine themselves being a vehicle for positive change in the mental health system without getting involved in the politics of the matter. The advocate who does not get involved in the political angle of the matter, I would call an incompetent advocate. For activists, such as myself, there is no question about it; a good part of our struggle is a political struggle. If you look at the definition of politics, then it becomes obvious why this is the case.

Main Entry: pol•i•tics
Pronunciation: \ˈpä-lə-ˌtiks\
Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
Etymology: Greek politika, from neuter plural of politikos political
Date: circa 1529

1 a: the art or science of government b: the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy c: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government
2: political actions, practices, or policies
3 a: political affairs or business ; especially : competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government) b: political life especially as a principal activity or profession c: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices
4: the political opinions or sympathies of a person
5 a: the total complex of relations between people living in society b: relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view

Merriam-Webster politics

If you look at the etymology of the word itself, as we are going to do now, then you can see how politics is unavoidable in almost any human endeavor that involves more than a single individual.

The word politics has its origins in Ancient Greece. All of the cities in Ancient Greece, such as Athens, Sparta, and Corinth, were referred to as city-states and the Greek word for a city-state was polis (πολις). The word acropolis is not just a clever name, the Greeks named all of the highest points in their city-states that because it literally made sense. Our culture is not so different for we still see the word polis used today when cities, like Los Angeles and New York, are referred to as a megalopolis or metropolis.

The polis was a tight unit where citizens would be heavily involved in the affairs of the state. All citizens were referred to as polites [pol-i-tes] and obviously this word was derived from polis. Over time, anything concerning the state would have some derivative of polis in it. This was more than ever apparent when Aristotle wrote his Ta Politika, translated into “Affairs of the State”.

When Greece faded away and the Roman way took over Western Civilization, the Romans retained much of the language that the Greeks had employed. However, Latin grammar was different than Greek grammar and in order to make Greek words fit into the Latin language, the endings had to be changed. Thus the Latin word, politicus was introduced. Politicus was an adjective that was used to describe anything “of the state”. Therefore, the suffix -us would change dependent on the gender of the noun it was describing, such as in -us, -a, -um. When the ending is dropped off, we are left with the stem politic and thus politics was born.

From Word Power: Politics
by Gregory Rineberg

So if you have a say in the affairs of the state, you do so through politics.

All sorts of laws govern the administering of mental health in most countries. In the USA Mental Health Law constitutes a separate branch of legal practice. Laws are enacted by politicians, hopefully expressing the will of the citizens they represent. Citizen groups are often a force behind some of the laws enacted by these politicians. Mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, and ex-patients can also play a role in the drafting of bills that later become law.

Here’s what Cornell University has to say about Mental Health and the Law:

Legal standards surround the process by which those who are mentally ill can be forced, against their will, to receive treatment. Statutes for involuntary commitment whether denominated civil or criminal are subject to the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. This is because involuntary commitment severly infringes on a person’s right to be free from governmental restraint and the right to not be confined unnecessarily. Courts have held that such statutes must bear some reasonable relation to the purpose for which the individual is committed.

From mental health law: an overview

Alright, maybe that’s enough for now.

Later we need to deal with the issue of civil rights and how it pertains to the mental health system. I think no reasonable person would claim that Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Cezar Chavez, Nelson Mandela and similar populous leaders weren’t trying to have a political impact when they resorted to acts of civil disobedience. Furthermore, we need to look more closely at the phenomenon of psychiatric oppression. Then there is what psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and others have referred to as The Therapeutic State. All of these matters directly relate to the point at which mental health and the law intersect or, more specifically, to that deprivation of liberty mentioned in the Cornell piece. As freedom is one of the fundamental rights behind which the establishment of this nation was based, we don’t want to take that right away from any person for trivial reasons.

Taking A Mental Health Test Any Time Soon?

There are some things people scheduled to take mental health tests should know about those tests before they take them. People often get the very mistaken idea that these tests are about helping needy people. I want to clear up any such misconception right away. These tests are about screening people for mental illnesses. If you don’t want to be diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness, it is a good idea not to take such a test in the first place.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to read up on mental illness before you take one of these tests. It’s a better idea to develop some kind of a cheat sheet from your readings on the subject before you take one of these tests. An even better idea is, as indicated earlier, not to take the test at all. It’s a bad idea to take one of these tests because you think there is something wrong with yourself. The test results, you see, are likely to agree with that assessment. It’s a bad idea to take one of these tests because you think you are well, the test results might disagree with you.

A mental health test is not a truth test. You must understand this from the beginning. Many people find themselves very confused on this point. The test is not asking you to truthfully tell how you are feeling, even if it asks you to truthfully tell how you are feeling. If the test asks you whether you think people are out to get you, the correct answer, if you don’t want a mental illness, is no. If school bullies are beating you up, or if the mob is gunning for you, the answer is still no. The tester is looking for paranoia, and paranoia is seen as a symptom of a mental illness.

The same applies to voices, even if you hear people talking. If the test asks if you hear voices, answer no. The test is asking about audio hallucinations, and it’s a good idea for a test taker, if that test taker doesn’t want to score high for mental illness, not to have any audio hallucinations. Even if the test taker does have audio hallucinations, answering truthfully is to be discouraged, that is if the test taker doesn’t want to score a mental illness. If the test asks if you hear voices issuing commands, you don’t. The test may be trying to trick you, and you don’t want to be tricked.

Should the test ask you if you ever had panic attacks, or if you experience a great deal of anxiety, always remember, you are as cool as a cucumber, and you have the nerves of a brain surgeon. One slip up here or there could prove one slip up too many, and then the test comes up nutzoid, and you have a disaster on your hands. No, you are perfectly capable, and you don’t get nervous or overly anxious, even if you do. These tests make few allowances for youth and inexperience, and so you have to be careful; you are treading on eggshells. You have to be careful, but don’t let that throw you. As I was saying, it helps to read up on mental illness before you take one of these tests.

Sometimes these tests are looking for depression, due to the suicide rate, and so you don’t want to have a bad day. Say it’s a good day, even if it’s a bad day. The distinction between clinical and everyday depression gets finer all the time. As a rule I look to Hallmarks Cards for my answers, but you have to be careful when you do that, too. The test could also be testing for bipolar disorder, and euphoria then, or excessive happiness, could be indicative of mania. The suggestion here is to be level headed and not giddy. Don’t ever let your test know if you’ve had too much of a good thing.

Some folks have been talking about getting everybody in the nation screened for mental illness. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad idea. Mental health screening has an incredibly high false positive rate. In other words, the test is more likely to find a person who isn’t mentally ill mentally ill than it is to find a person mentally ill who is mentally ill. Think about it. The confusion can only be beginning there. How do we tell that some of the mentally ill people we’ve encountered aren’t really mentally well, just unfound out?

The mental illness rate has been rising at a proportionately higher rate than the population since the turn of the 20th century. Mental health screening is not going to lessen that incline in the ‘sick’ population. Do we really want more nut cases in the world? There can only be one result from these mental health screenings, and that is a rise in the crazy population. Why don’t we do something instead to stem the spread of these maladies of the mind? Oh, I know. Because doctors and mental health professionals want to drum up business, and what better way do they have for doing so than by testing people for mental health issues.

Paying More Down The Road

I’m not a big advocate for mental health insurance parity, and I will tell you why this is so. My feeling is that insurance parity legitimizes the labeling/diagnosis of mental illness, and it also serves as just another economic disincentive for affected peoples to recovering from any serious mental illness they may happen to have. Nonetheless insurance parity has made its way through Congress, and now the nation is going to have to pay for it. This is on top of the soon to be bankrupt Social Security system, and any other economic blunders this nation will have to contend with.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is an organization ‘dedicated to exposing psychiatric violations of human rights’. It is an organization that some people might characterize as a front group for the Church of Scientology. I’m not sure this characterization is quite fair, but let me add, the CCHR has a close relationship with the Church of Scientology. The CCHR weblog calls for the defeat of a couple of bills before Congress, HB 3200 and a related Senate bill. I fully support the CCHR in their efforts to quash these two bills.

As the CCHR points out in its weblog:

Psychiatric patients are traditionally “cured” when their insurance benefits run out. In this bill, those benefits never run out.


The mental illness rate has been climbing dramatically since the middle of the 20th century. Despite this rise in the mental illness rate, biological psychiatry has gained a theoretical hold over the practice of psychiatry. Biological psychiatry would discount environmental and social factors in the development of mental illness, but given this sharp rise in the incidence of mental illness, environmental and social factors obviously have a great deal to do with that development. If the rate of mental illness can rise, it can also decline.

Psychiatrists typically prescribe drugs that can be debilitating to people in mental health treatment. These drugs are paid for through the insurance benefits mentioned earlier. A return to mental health often requires detoxification from such chemical disruptions. Psychiatrists, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers all profit from these chemical maintenance treatment programs. Mental health consumers are debilitated and impoverished through this same drug maintenance. As the insurance company is often not a private, but a public, insurance company, the already over burdened tax payer is often the one footing the bill for this broken system.

There must be a better way, and there is a better way! We have two words to characterize that better way in fact, and those two words are: ‘common’ and ‘sense’. Another way of putting this is by resorting to proverbs. One of these proverbs runs– “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Create a population of human vegetables, by doping them up, and by taking care of their every need, and you are not teaching that population to look after themselves. So we’ve got ‘crazy’ people in the world, do we? The question then becomes, who are the ‘crazier’ ones? The people who administer this system of ‘giving away fish’, or the people at the receiving end of this free ‘fish’ scam, or the people who turn a blind eye to the whole process?

So much ink has been spilled over pumping more money into the mental health system. Spending for ineffectual mental health programs is not a good place for that money to go. (Isn’t anybody else going to give this thing a good duh!?) Draining money through the next best thing to insurance fraud, however legal, is not a good direction to go in either. When we start to put money into actually getting people out of the mental health system, then we can begin to see some real progress. What I’m saying is that our investment in the mental health system is a big part of the problem. It’s a business, and it’s a growing business. When you start investing in a beyond the mental health system, for people trapped in that system, then you will be getting some place.

Governor Urged To Stop Drugging Children

According to an article in the July 23rd issue of the Miami Herald, a married couple, Mirko and Regina Ceska, have urged Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist to stop the over medication of foster children in his state.

Marko and Regina have two adoptive foster daughters, both of whom were said to be on some 11 psychiatric drugs apiece when they first entered into the Ceska’s care. One of the drugs both of these girls were on was the powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel.

“These girls were overdosed and would fall asleep right in front of us several times a day,” Mirko Ceska said.

“It seems to be a prerequisite for foster children to be on medication,” he added. “So many are on psychotropic drugs.”

The Crawfordville couple weaned the girls off their medication, and their behavior markedly improved, they said.

George Shelton, the Department of Children and Families secretary, has asked both parents to testify before a committee investigating the over use of psychiatric drugs on foster children in Florida.

Regina Ceska, a nurse, said she and her husband found a “shocking” number of children in the foster system appear to be medicated with Seroquel, which she said shouldn’t be used on children.

Gov. Charlie Crist urged to stop ‘chemical restraint’ of foster kids

Hopefully Marco and Regina’s example will encourage other brave parents to come forward and testify about this kind of drugging, and the horrific effects it can have on children in Florida’s foster care.

Harris County, Texas, And The Nation

Below is a list of ‘highlight’s’ James Hamilton added to the article, Harris County: Let’s Go Crazy, he penned awhile back on Mental Illness in Harris County, Texas.

I thought I should repond to each “highlight” point by point, and I proceeded do so. Further, I don’t think this is a specifically Texas, or even Houston area, problem, but it’s a national problem, and the solutions to this problem are going to overflow the borders of any specific county. I have lived in Virginia, and I presently live in Florida, and we find some of the same problems existing in both states.

Some “highlights”:

1. JULY is “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month”. (Non-minorities: it’s O.K. to be nuts)
2. I’m going to make you mad. I welcome the discourse.
3. The numbers of mental illness cases are climbing due to street substance abuse, alcoholism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. But, the number of those trained to treat mental illness is on a rapid…DECLINE:
4. There are approximately 500,000 adult Harris County residents who experience a mental health condition each year;
5. Approximately 140,000 of those suffer a severe mental illness, such as severe depression, bipolar disease and/or schizophrenia;
6. Almost half of adult Harris County residents who suffer from a severe mental illness could not access treatment; and
7. Approximately 20 percent of inmates in the Harris County Jails have a history of mental illness.

Responses to those “highlights”:

1. Minorities: it’s not O.K. to be nuts. I hope you can manage to get over it. (Whatever it is?) Non-minorities: ditto. July is also Mad Pride Month. It’s much more O.K. to show a little Mad Pride gumption and spine. Mad Pride has the potential of getting you out of about any ditch you might happen to get stuck in.
2. You don’t make me mad. I’ve, like, been there, done that. Discourse is all too often the regurgitation of official hogwash, and you won’t get that kind of thing from me.
3. ‘It’s the economy, dummy!’ Uh, it’s the economy when it isn’t a business. The expanding business of providing mental health services. This business is often the business of treating people who have had their lives wrecked by a bad economy. You say the number of trained mental health professionals is in decline? Good. I’ve seen so many people who couldn’t or wouldn’t walk away from the mental health system, I find that facet of the matter refreshing.
4. More or less? As a mental health consumer provider once said of state hospitals, “If you give them more beds, they will fill them.” You could define mental health condition, too. NAMI, the MHA, and their ilk claim 1 out of 4 people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, but most of those people seem to get over it.
5. Alright. I will give you another statistic. 20-25% of those who are homeless reportedly have been labeled mentally ill. It’s a hard life. I’ve heard of people who’ve gone to jail to get a meal and a roof over their heads. I’m not saying all of those 20-25% are actually coo-coo. State hospitals also have kitchens and beds. I’m just saying do something about homelessness and poverty, and you do something about ‘mental illness’, too.
6. Some people are just lucky I guess. Or is it unlucky?
7. There are better places to house people than in jails. Believe me! Less expensive places, too. The trend of dealing with problem people by putting them in jail is not the solution to our mental health problems in this nation.

Other related issues involve:

Making people labeled ‘mentally ill’ the scapegoat for perpetuators of violent crime, regardless of whether these violent criminals bear psychiatric labels or not, does not represent the best course of action for us as a nation to take. Most people in mental health treatment are not violent criminals. The news media would have you believe otherwise while politicians, law enforcement officials, and others have made ‘the mental health issue’ part of their personal agenda because of a few cases that do make the news. This is primarily a prestige thing, and the measures that come of these agendas are neither likely to lower the mental illness rate, nor are they likely to lower the violent crime rate.

You are not going to have less people labeled mentally ill, and in the mental health care system, by testing the general public for problems and issues. Mental health screening has an incredibly high false positive rate. What did we say about hospitals and beds? If you go looking for people in need of treatment, well, you are sure to find some. Perhaps you will even find some people who don’t need that treatment so much, but whom you will be treating anyway. Keep going, and what do you have? An even higher rate of mental illness. Hmmm. On a more positive note, the market for self-help literature will probably be rising proportionately.