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.

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