Friday, August 28, 2015

Jenni White: A Call To Reform Mental Health Public Policy

Here are some highlights of an extensive thesis by Jenni White, about the failed public policy for severe mental illness, in Oklahoma

  Like many, I imagine, I’ve had a hard time reconciling the death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, because the sadness strikes on so many levels. Though it seems incalculable to ruminate on them all, one I hope will come to the forefront as a result of this tragedy, is the unbelievable hardship it has become to seek help for those with mental instability – a situation to which I’ve had a bit of exposure on both sides of the fence.

“Deinstitutionalization has gone way too far.”

 In the decades since, the sickest patients have begun turning up in jails and homeless shelters with a frequency that mirrors that of the late 1800s. “We’re protecting civil liberties at the expense of health and safety,” says Doris A. Fuller, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group that lobbies for broader involuntary commitment standards. “Deinstitutionalization has gone way too far.”
 The Treatment Advocacy Center provides information for legislators, lawyers and the lay community, lobbying for such issues as the addition of psychiatric beds and for removal of the incarcerated mentally ill to treatment centers. TAC also works hard to provide education of the current commitment laws in each state.
 Judges have refused to involuntarily commit due either to perceived civil rights violations or a lack of available treatment beds..
  Unfortunately, the changes to mental health treatment and commitment procedures have not only effected the mentally ill, but alcoholics and drug addicts as well. Without a commitment option available, families often have to wait so long before their loved one is able to seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they injure others or themselves in the interim.

Famed Artist, Vincent Van Gogh, after a self-mutilation psychosis
  Quite obviously, there needs to be less discussion and more actual reform of mental health care in America to uphold policies and procedures lying somewhere between the over-identifying, over-medicating psychiatric establishment and the treatment of the mentally ill as feral animals by the anti-psychiatric movement. It is beyond time for realist activists to engage on this issue, which, as with so many other American institutions has been overrun by ideologues. The mental health laws currently active in Oklahoma need to be researched and brought into the sunlight of the public square. It is absolute necessity to engage in the fight to make these laws protect the public as well as the mentally ill themselves.

Jenni goes into such greater detail, in her original thesis, At Marching To The Beat Of a Different Reality
David Van Risseghem

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