Friday, August 31, 2007

Still no room for those with mental illness

The first story on my news list was also on the CBC National News last night in another form. The story was a documentary about a woman, Marie, who had fetal alcohol syndrome and is unable to care for herself due to severe outbursts. There is no place for her. Her father can’t care for her and when she was in a hospital, she struck out and attacked a nurse and another patient. What was the result? She was arrested and put in prison. What’s wrong with that picture?

Mental illness is still not being recognized and treated properly by a large part of our society. Just when it seems that progress is being made, we are reminded of the number of homeless people who have mental illness or disproportionate number of people with mental illnesses who are in prison.

What is it going to take to get this treated seriously? The big movement to close psychiatric hospitals and integrate the patients isn’t working. While integration is great for some, it’s really not for others. They need the structure, they need the experienced caregivers, and they need the help. Did closing all those institutions really save the money it was supposed to? Well, in the institution books, yes. But not in real life. How much is it costing to hospitalize people in a mental health crisis? What is the real life cost of people living on the margins of society? Can dollar savings even compare to this cost?

News for Today:
Homeless hospitalized more often for mental illness: study
Ovary removal heightens risk of dementia, Parkinson's
Underage drinking starts before adolescence
Pill box organizers increase HIV patients' adherence and improve viral suppression


Dawn said...

NZ has also gone through a bout of closing psychiatric hospitals and "integrating" patients back into society. As you say, it works for some. We've had some real disasters along the way.

Crabby McSlacker said...

This is interesting--I thought this was mostly a US problem and that the rest of the developed world was way more sensible about it than we are. It really is a shame.