Patient Protest at a New Jersey Mental Hospital

Patients at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, New Jersey, are protesting new rules and therapy sessions, according to an article in NJ.com, Parsippany psychiatric hospital patients boycott therapy sessions, protest new rules.

Nearly half of the 432 patients at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital have signed a petition or boycotted therapy sessions this month to protest new rules they say further limit their activities and force them to attend programs that don’t help in their recovery, patients and an advocacy groups say.

Almost half the patients at Greystone Park have the nerve to tell hospital officials something is not right within its walls.

The conflict arose Aug. 1, when managers at the hospital in Parsippany reduced the number of visits allowed to the Park Cafe, a commissary and meeting place for patients, from every weeknight and weekends to twice a week.

The patients petition also complains about recently limited access to a library and a computer room.

A department official said that the café hours were cut in order to get patients to participate in “more recovery-oriented, evidence-based treatments”.

Christopher Badger, a patient for nearly four years, said he speaks for several “high-functioning” patients who describe many treatment programs as little more than coloring, playing board games and listening to music. State officials dismissed the claim by some that the changes were intended to prevent them from having access to such things as cigarettes and drugs.

Coloring books, board games, and music listening…I wonder whether such “recovery-oriented, evidence-based treatments” even “work” in kindergarten.

New Jersey’s protection and advocacy agency, Disability Rights New Jersey, has even come out as sympathetic to the patient’s complaints.

Greystone Park is one of 5, soon to be 4 (Yay deinstitutionalization!), state hospitals in the state of New Jersey.

Although the hospital has been unmoving with regard to patient grievances, it is our hope that this pressure will compell the hospital to give more consideration to the self-determination and stymied rights of patients confined within its wall.

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4 Responses

  1. You and I know that psychiatry is rubbish and that just about everything done by coercive psychiatry is either a lie and/or done for the wrong reasons.

    But… It probably would be a good thing overall if institutions like that were closed. And in NJ they probably want to close these places even if their reasoning and future intentions are dubious.

    So one of the things they will do is make it a less pleasant and attractive place for a great many of the type of people who are otherwise willing to take up residence there.

    They also know that these restrictions will make things more difficult for the workers who will then be more willing to give up their employment

    • The claim that deinstitutionalization had gone too far, as it has been in other places, was used in Virginia to make mental health laws there more restrictive. Criminal justice and mental health authorities are now using this claim to reinstitutionalize. On top of this bid for more restrictive care, involuntary outpatient commitment laws are one way in which institutionalization is extended beyond the walls of the hospital. We’re talking forced treatment in one’s home community here, and that’s an even scarier thought that involves a more Orwellian type and sovietlike style of social controll.

      Homelessness and mental health issues in jails and prisons have been blamed on deinstitutionalization. When you close institutions without making the requisite changes, in terms of community care and supports, that’s the kind of result you must expect. You don’t just close hospitals without allocating monies for treatments in a community setting. Politicians are fain to make these rather complex considerations before they act. Community care (prevention) is much cheaper than institutionalization, but if funds aren’t allocated in that direction first, you’re back to paying through all the orifices you have for reinstitutionalization.

      I was in an institution that went from housing nearly 3,000 patients to housing about 250 patients, and let me tell you, if the staff suffered they didn’t suffer like the inmates did. Most patients at this time there, except for the long-term patients, weren’t even allowed ground previleges. The year after I was “discharged” the federal government went in, and changes were instituted. I think one of those changes was a larger staff to inmate ratio, and so they’d actually be employing, not a sign of staff suffering, more staff. The economic crisis has caused the state once again to cut mental health spending. This kind of belt tightening could actually put the hospital I was in back in the place that it was in before the feds moved into investigate.

      The point I want to make here is that psychiatric treatment is not necessarily improving, and an indication of this lack of improvement can be found in the fact that more and more people are being inducted into the system as mental patients. At the same time that more and more people are being recruited, very few of them are retiring from their disabled status. Emotional depression is expected to become a bigger problem for the future than heart disease. The economy can only take so much stress, and sooner or later, the added burden is going to cause us another major financial crisis.

  2. Graystone, Ancora and Trenton are hell holes. I think Trenton is probably the worst, since they have criminals from the prison put in there with the other patients- convicted murderers and rapists and what not. It was Trenton that shook my beliefs about the humanity of people seeing what went on in there. It’s like – if you could go there and not get raped, it was a miracle.

    I was chained to a bed for the first two days, the bed was covered in plastic, and they chained my arm to the side- it looked like a giant baby’s crib. I had a sheet over the top of me. If I had to go to the toilet, I was told to ring for the nurse, but how do you ring for a nurse if one of your arms is tied to a guard rail? Then they would bring in some poor schlep that was illegal to wipe the urine off the floor. During the second night the gal in the room with me took my sheet and with hers as well, she tried to hang herself. I was lucky. I was in there for four days. I knew a guy who went there who was in Vietnam- he said Vietnam was a cakewalk compared to that hell hole.

    All that is missing from these places is a sign in the lobby saying “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”

    That should get the message across loud and clear. Thank you for reporting on NJ. I have one about Ancora I need to put up on my blog.

    • Thanks for your comment, Susan.

      The general public just don’t know how bad some of these institutions are, and there are no people better equiped to inform that public about conditions in these places than those who have personally done time within them.

      Regarding the quotation (“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’entrate”), for any of my readers who were baffled, it’s from Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, and it translates:

      Leave behind every hope, you who enter.

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