Psychiatrists have long emphasized low recovery rates for serious mental health issues resulting in a great number of what are called long-term or chronic cases. My feeling is that this low recovery rate has 2 major causes. The first is due to the fact that the primary form of treatment, drug treatment, is crippling in its own right, and it doesn’t really address the underlying circumstances behind whatever dilemma a person may be facing. The second is that we’ve got an expansive self-perpetuating mental health system that isn’t really interested in seeing people released from that system. If the rhetoric says one thing, the facts suggest another.
Biological psychiatry, which would blame these bad outcomes on heredity, is blinded by its own prejudices and presumptions. All research in this area of expertise can only be approximate, by no means is psychiatry an exact science. If you are saying that these people have bad genes, you still have to demonstrate that all of them have bad genes, and not just a fraction. Biological psychiatry is trying to say that that fraction includes a greater rather than lesser number of people it has labeled. This theory has been disproved by World Health Organization (WHO) research into recovery rates in developing countries. If recovery rates in some countries in the developing world were twice those in the more industrial nations, obviously the fraction suffering from bad genes, in this instance, becomes smaller rather than greater. Under the skin, people in the developing world are the same as the people in the developing world.
The real and only difference between a mental patient, and much of the rest of the world, is meaningful and paid employment. The mental health system, as it is now set up, being based upon insurance disability claims, can’t co-exist with meaningful employment. People receive disability when they are deemed unfit to work. There is no graduated system within the mental health system of getting people back into the working world. Loss of disability serves as a disincentive to working, especially when job insecurity and relapse fears abound. The idea of doing something innovative, like incorporating a small labor force, flounders when you reach the bureaucratic insurance company and governmental red tape involved.
Work has been described as conducive to recovery when it comes to mental upsets and life crises. The mental health system is hiring Peer Support Specialists at this time because it just doesn’t make sense to tend so many under and unemployed people when you can put a few to work. People in the mental health system often want to work. Simply sending them to college for more training is not always the best policy for them. It would help if the mental health system made finding people suitable employment outside of the mental health system a part of its business. I’m not saying work solves everything. I am saying that work can be fun, and that it doesn’t have to be conceived of as nothing but tedium and drudgery.
Both of these causes will have to be addressed if recovery rates are to be substantially improved. Non-drug alternative approaches to disabling and damaging chemical treatments need to be studied and applied. The question and nature of the worth of people in the job market will need to be reintroduced and explored. Special and novel ways of achieving that worth need to be looked at as well. This is a social matter, and as such, it involves groups of people seeking solutions to the problems that people have in common. In order to come up with these solutions, something of the insular and segregating nature of the mental health system will have to give way before the need to engage more people in the active life of their communities.