The Mental Health Treatment Delay Myth

Myth. The delay between onset of (mental illness) symptoms and actual treatment runs between six and 23 years.

Reality. Many many people have what could be characterized as self esteem issues. Mental health professionals have speculated that there are many people out there with ‘a serious mental illness’ who are not in treatment who need treatment. Pharmaceutical companies are looking for new markets. The mental illness rate in America has been growing since the turn of the century, but it has really burgeoned to epidemic proportions since the introduction of psychiatric drugs. This rate rose even higher with the introduction of atypical antipsychotic drugs. If mental health professionals weren’t trying to drum up business by ‘diagnosing’ more patients, business would suffer. Mental health professionals exploit self esteem issues to convince newly ‘diagnosed’ patients that their conditions existed prior to ‘diagnosis’.

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If ‘diagnosing’ can present such a dilemma, just imagine the trouble a person could get into trying to ‘undiagnose’ him or herself from such a ‘disorder’, or in ‘recovering’, as it is more frequently put, from a ‘serious mental illness’.

I don’t think anybody has done a lot of research on the subject, or we could give you an estimated average length of time it takes. I’m afraid that the ‘serious’ in ‘serious mental illness’ usually indicates ‘chronic’, or ‘long term’, and this presents a major part of the problem.

Lock a person up once, and you have a person with an ‘acute’ mental illness. Lock a person up twice, or more times, and you have a person with a ‘chronic’ mental illness. Although whose habit it is, the patient’s, the family’s, the police department’s, the community’s, or the facility’s, is open to question.

Personally, I think all ‘mental health’ interventions should be brief, and if this were possible for what we characterize as ‘serious mental illness’, they would no longer be characterized as ‘serious’. We would call all such cases ‘acute’. (Loveable even.)

Just as the rate of mental illness in this country (the USA) has grown dramatically, I think it should be possible to reduce that rate. If the rate were reduceable, then many of those patients that had previously been characterized as ‘chronic’ might then be recharacterized as ‘acute’.

Achieving this objective would mean changing treatment practices from those which encourage the chronic mental patient career path into those which promote recovery through a change in relationships, and the circumstances which come of those relationships. Fat chance, huh?

Despite some positive changes–you have “consumer providers” now, throwing off the psychological crutch a splinter at a time in some cases–this staggering rise in the mental illness rate, coupled with a further debilitating public insurance plan, are imposing obstacles that can stand in the way of such developments.

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