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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Conn. Debates Mandatory Outpatient Treatment For Mentally Ill

(e-MagineArt.com/Flickr)

(e-MagineArt.com/Flickr)

A special task force in Connecticut is holding a public hearing today on mental health issues and guns.

It is not known if Newtown shooter Adam Lanza had any diagnosed mental illness, but a family friend has said Lanza’s mother was in the process of having her son committed to a psychiatric hospital just before he went on his shooting spree.

Connecticut lawmakers are now debating whether to join most other states in passing what’s called “outpatient commitment,” which would mandate court-ordered treatment for people with serious mental illness who are not in the hospital.

It’s outraged some mental health advocates, who say people with mental illness should make their own decisions. Here’s an excerpt from an opinion piece in the Hartford Courant by Janet Van Tassel, head of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project:

“Because a forced medication or treatment law would restrict the fundamental civil rights of people with mental illness, there are questions about whether it would violate Connecticut’s constitutional protections for these individuals. Certainly, it would require an enforcement system and court proceedings comparable to those used in New York, which cost more than $32 million per year. Consequently, it would be very costly, and use money that would be better spent on community services.”

The measure is being applauded by others who say they desperately need the help for their loved ones who don’t know they’re seriously ill. The Treatment Advocacy Center argues on its website in favor of outpatient commitment, also called assisted outpatient treatment (AOT):

“Studies and data from states using AOT prove that it is effective in reducing the incidence and duration of hospitalization, homelessness, arrests and incarcerations, victimization, and violent episodes. AOT also increases treatment compliance and promotes long-term voluntary compliance, while reducing caregiver stress. The six states that do not have AOT are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, and Tennessee.”

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6VNTVES7FXMG2B3VZ5BJCFF7JI jstang

    “Connecticut lawmakers are now debating whether to join most other states in passing what’s called “outpatient commitment,” which would mandate court-ordered treatment for people with serious mental illness who are not in the hospital.”

    Just to be fair, such laws are used for only a very small percentage of people with severe mental illness, not all of them.  The targets are those who are incapable of helping themselves, normally because they are too sick to do so.

    And that comes from someone who has such an illness, but thanks to an intervention like that was able to regain his life with the right medication.  Went from thinking the CIA was after me to being a lawyer, but then the state I was in prized treatment in such situations over psychosis.

  • Barbara

    The reporting requirements and forced medication debate scare me because of the lifetime stigma and legal ramifications that will be attached to “mental illness”, which in some cases is truly a temporary, curable illness. A decade ago, while in an abusive relationship and while I was actively using street drugs, I attempted suicide and was involuntarily committed to the hospital for two weeks, during this time, I was inproperly diagnosed as bipolar within my first 24 hours of admission by a brand new psychiatrist. Over two years of outpatient counseling, and various medication changes, and two self admissions for crisis management, i was able to leave the abusive relationship and stop using drugs with the continuing support of NA. I asked my doctor, because I was truly afraid, if I would be committed if I chose to stop taking the medication. He said no. Since that time, eight years ago and with a clear head I have learned so much about myself and have changed and grown into a happy healthy woman. I am still haunted though by the stigma of my prior illness and worry that if I am ever under the care of a doctor in the future of experience a period of true grief, sadness, or difficulty, that these previos mental health records will be used against me and i will be commited and forced to take unecessary drugs.

  • andreawilder

    People with severe mental health problems can’t make decisions related to their illness. they ae not able to.  The friend of a friend has been hospitalized, is now out.  When he takes his 
    medicine he is sane.  When he doesn’t…. He has threatened his parents with a knife & tried to cut off his penis.  He should not be on the street, and he should be away from his parents.  
    That means a hospital.

    Most people do not understand mental illness.  Any control methods I have heard about balloon into a bureaucracy that is only answerable to itself.  The problem then becomes “solved” when the
    bureaucratic steps have been followed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

    It’s a problem when you can see both sides of this issue. In my opinion this is a problem, of all too common nature, of the bureaucracy trying to mandate a cure for a common problem and only succeeding in messing the whole thing up.

    The professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, LCSW, et al) should be making recommendations to handle these situations and not the lawyers and politicians.

  • Gula

    What I see in the photo above looks like all medications.  Or are there some vitamin and mineral supplements hiding among the drugs. 
    So are the experts telling us that the problem of the mentally ill are that they are lacking drugs for their problems.
    What about the factor of a poor diet and  lifestyles with these people?
    Humans require three things in life in this order: oxygen, water and food.
    There have been countless studies done on the relationship of diets and physical along with mental health over the decades.
    When you feed the body you are also feeding the mind, its all connected.

    In grade school, at least when I went 50 years ago, we were taught in science classes of the effects of vitamin and mineral deficiencies on animals and humans.
    Not only is the physical body affected, but also the mental part. Body and mind are connected.
    The problem isn’t a lack of drugs for these people, its high quality nutrient dense foods.
    Once again the media is focusing on the needs that Big Pharma has the answers. They are ignoring the overprocessed, fragmented, devitalized,chemicalized, GMO ladened, dead and stale material which passes off as food in this country from Big Food. The standard American diet(SAD) is killing people. Americans are overfed and undernourished. The health care or death care system is strained with the ill, ailing and dying. 
    One only need to see how refined white sugar affects human behaviour.  Look at the obesity epidemic across the country. That’s not normal.
    In my 40 years of traveling the globe, I rarely have seen the health problems overseas that I do here in the US.
    Race horses and greyhound dogs are fed better than humans in this country.
    Mental illness probably has some genetic factors over generations, but all these experts and the media are looking only for drugs for an answer.
    The solution is in your DIET. What do these people consume? What are their habits?
    A naturopathic doctor looks at all these factors. Do you drink or smoke? Do you get enough sleep, rest or exercise.  Do you drink enough pure water? Naturopathic medicine uses food to correct ailments.  The allopath only looks to treat the symptoms with drugs.
    Dr. Henry G. Bieler wrote a book , Food Is Your Best Medicine(1965)
    Also check out Dr. Weston A. Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration from 1939.
    If you feed your automobile cheap gasoline that has water or impurities in it, it will sputter along, the same goes for the human body and its needs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

      Our understanding and knowledge has changed in the past 50 years — read something current. 

      Nutrition has nothing to do with schizophrenia or any other mental disease.

      • Katta

        Another “expert” who knows more and more about less and less.
        How about supplying some proof Navin?
        Or are you some specialist in the field.
        You are telling us that the mental aspects of a person has absolutely nothing to do with what one feeds themself with.
        Take a drinker who gets a hangover from too much alcohol.
        They get a headache, feel dizzy, can’t think straight. The alcohol has nothing to do with his “head” problems.
        You must really be duped by the media and whatever the educational system taught you.  A classic case of dumbing down aye, Navin
        What a foolish comment.
        Read some current, like what? The New York Times edition of Tuesday 29 Jan 2013. Or maybe I can learn something from the latest episode of Oprah or Dr. Phil.

      • Clara

        This is the usual drivel I have found over time at various comment boards from Navin. 
        A real thinking man with little to say. I believe you may have some serious mental issues with your postings on line.
        I would suggest you take your medications and get back to your world of videos.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

           Oh no! I am experiencing a coordinated personal attack from the mononymous veganologists.

      • Guest

         Oh wow!  You couldn’t be wrong.  You should probably learn something about what you are saying before you so blithely spout your ignorance.  For nearly all mental illness, medication is only half of the equation.  The other half is lifestyle.  Diet, exercise, and sleep.  These are just as, if not more, important than meds.

      • James, Sr

        You are correct, I have not heard of any research aside from pre-natal and childhood developmental studies that show any correlation between nutrition and mental illness. Now if you take a more expansive definition of nutrition to encompass having ones fundamental needs met in a quality way and you use Maslow’s pyramid as a model for successful functioning with mental health equating with self-actualization at the top which makes it evident that there are fundamental needs that must be met in some order then applying the expansive definition of nutrition it becomes clearer that the quality by which the needs are met could be integral to achieving happiness which is otherwise coded as self-actualization and could otherwise be stated as mental health. One caveat is that Maslow’s pyramid is a framework for otherwise healthy individuals and the application of this is unsubstantiated for truly abnormal psychology. I can only wonder how many people would be called mentally ill once their fundamental needs were addressed in a quality fashion. Those people might simply be driven insane by our disregard of the concept of nutrition in its expansive form, and what frightens me more than anything is that means that those people could be any one of us were we in their circumstances. We should do all we can to understand deeper and to not get lost in the trees because not everyone is as gifted in the reconciliation of complex viewpoints, that tends to require less learning and more experience in life which comes at a high price than tuition at Harvard and fails to evidence itself in sheepskin or other clear markers. We call people ignorant because they don’t know how else to communicate a complex message and because we don’t fully grasp the language they are using to say it. I know more ignorant people with ivy league degrees who have nothing but derision that blinds them to the ordinary wisdom of others who may lack the learning but have the education. I know this because that was me for most of my life.

  • whosdelusion

    I have lived 59 years, dad, daughter, school friends, renters on disability, NO ONE takes their psychiatric medications consistantly. It is human nature to say “I’m better now”, I feel fine and I’m tired of the side affects, it interfears with my creativity, my sleep, whatever.
    If you can’t get well educated middle class person dealing with depression to use their medications in a consistant way how can you expect a person with a paranoid schzoid disorder, who’s illness is more likely to lead to harm to others or themselves act rationaly.  Without  a spouse’s consistant support (and insistance) it does not happen.
    Delusional behavior is the problem so who’s delusional behavior should be treated first.

  • Darsan54

    Have you done any research on this subject?  Robin you make the assumptions of take a pill and the mental illness will go away.  Also, some of the side effects are blurred thinking, impotence and enormous weight gain, not to mention certain internal disorders.  Maybe talk with someone before going on the air in order to develop some informed questions.

    • Barbara

      Taking a pill sometimes provides a temporary respite while the person gets the counseling assistance they need, it is not a long term solution and for some mental illnesses may actually impede the process of recovery.

  • Mary Katz

    I was a social worker in Michigan for 37 years. I only knew of three social workers who were murdered. All three of them were murdered by mentally ill people, not drug addicts.

    • Barbara

      In active addiction, addicts may be misdiagnosed with mental illnesses. How would these reporting requirements affect them? What about survivors of abuse of those with PTSD who are misdignosed with mental illnesses prior to getting counseling and unraveling the underlying causes of their illnesses. Would they be forever forced to be medicated and reported and unable to ever own a legal weapon?

  • Pat

    I think the AOT program is much needed.  I am a mother of two mentally ill adults and three mentally ill nephews — all with schizoaffective disorder.  My experience is that the system as it is absolutely does not work.  This is a thought disorder.  How can you expect patients with this disease to be able to advocate for themselves.  It’s like not treating someone with dementia  because they have the right to decide their own treatment.  What if their brain disease doesn’t allow proper decision making.  What is in the best interest of the patient?  Would you let your mother with dementia wander the streets caring for herself?  These people have a brain disease.  It’s scary and hellish for them.  They need help.  Heaven help those individuals who have no family member to advocate for them. 

  • Lou

    By spending time on this topic is to be manipulated by the NRA. Get the topic off assault weapons onto an impossible “remedy” of doing something about mental illness. Personally, I think those who think the 2nd Amendment gives people the right to own assault weapons and believe the Feds are going to come to their house and take their guns are crazy. What will I have to do to have them committed or put on meds?

    Focus on the NRA’s crazy stance to do ANYTHING about the problem!

  • Shinypapillon

    I have found a lot of the discussion surrounding the mentally ill based upon social stigma rather than facts.   There are a lot of vague generalizations being made regarding the mentally ill and violence (to themselves or others) rather than actual numbers. 

    As someone who lives with a severe mental illness, I am finding the majority of conversations regarding the mentally ill damaging and degrading. 

  • Amandapants

    One of the biggest issues in mental health is that even when someone obviously needs to be in a hospital under supervision there is often nowhere to put them so they go onto a waiting list. How much of a deterrent is it then going to be when a judge tells you that he/she is going to have you committed if you are not taking your medication, but is not able to when the time comes because there are not enough beds available in nearby mental health centers.

    Money needs to be allocated for mental health programs  that will actually help address the issues at hand, not ones that are going to contribute to the problem by using scare tactics to try and force people in to compliance. Families and patients need to have more resources available to them then just involuntary commitment if someone is a danger to themselves or others. Oftentimes, because of limits on what insurance will cover, this involuntary commitment is limited to seven days of frantically trying to put a band-aid on the problem so the patient can then be pushed back out into the community ready or not with a prescription for medication and follow up psychiatric care that may or may not be followed. There is no one to follow up and the family is given the bare minimum of advice as to what they should do or look for in case something goes wrong. This system is not going to be fixed by adding someone with a gavel into the mix.

  • Sweeneywp

    I worked in an outpatient mental health treatment program for 28 years.  The program started in response to the huge increase in the number of people with chronic mental illness who were ending up in the criminal justice system.  Our staff included a psychiatrist, nurses and case workers.  We assisted with housing, applications and advocacy with the Social Security disability system, nursing and case management assistance with sorting thru the problems of everyday life. We also monitored medications.  An individual who was referred to our program would come to our clinic 4 or 5 times per week.  With frequent contact, we could observe how they were doing and intervene when there were signs of instability before their condition deteriorated further.  We had people who had been in and out of jails, prisons, and psychiatric hospitals for years.  Some had been convicted of violent offenses, often as a result of severe paranoia.  These same people, with the assistance of our program, had no further contact with the criminal justice system, and in most instances no further inpatient psychiatric stays.  

    Some of the people in our program who had convicted of violent offenses, or had been committed to a psychiatric hospital for extreme behavior where they harmed others or themselves, or threatened to do so, voiced an intent to leave our program and to discontinue psychiatric treatment.  We started commitment proceedings which for the most part were successful.  The individual may or may not need a short inpatient stay, but then would be required to comply with treatment in our outpatient program.  With some individuals, we renewed the commitment year after year because their history demonstrated that if given a choice, they would once again discontinue treatment, and then become a threat to others or to themselves.  I hasten to add that these were few and far between, and that their histories presented clear and convincing evidence of what their pattern of behavior was.  People unfamiliar with chronic mental illness can find it to be astounding that someone with a clear history of psychotic behavior can claim that he or she does not have a mental illness, and does not need to take medications that has worked to restore him or her to psychiatric stability.  I still find it astounding myself.

    Many people may look at what I have written and see it as a terrible restriction of freedom and independence.  It is by no means simple.  There are many complications, many moral quandaries and questions.  But when considering this, people need to recognize that there are thousands of people with chronic mental illness who are in our jails and prisons who should not be there, but who are there, at least in part, because they were not compelled to accept psychiatric treatment.  In addition, there are many other people, families, friends and strangers who have been harmed unnecessarily because these individuals were not compelled to cooperate with treatment.  On the other hand, there are those individuals for whom we renewed commitments year after year who did not harm anyone, who did not end up in jail, prison or the hospital.

    One man promised to continue in our program after his parole ended.  We had placed him in housing, helped him get social security disability, and provided other services.  He was quite stable and everyone liked him, including the staff and the other residents of the apt complex where he lived.  However, as soon as his parole ended, he announced that he did not have a mental illness and was no longer going to take medications.  In a short while, we got a call from the manager at his apt building saying that he was walking thru the hallways swinging a butcher knife.  He was scaring the staff and other residents.  We got him committed, and then kept renewing the commitment each year.  He was very likable and lived a decent life.  Each year when I would tell him that we were going to renew the commitment, he said he understood, that it was all part of an elaborate plot by the FBI.  Then he would chuckle and shake my hand and that would be that.

  • Ted

    Keep feeding these mental cases more drugs. Its good for Big Pharma and their stockholders.
    Once only need to watch the evening news on the mainstream media and even some of the cable channels to see the heavy, nonstop advertizements for some drug.
    And at the same time, ads for lawsuits again other drugs due to their wonderful side effects.
    Its a drug culture in the USA. More people need drugs as they are deficient in them.

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley’s lecture to The California Medical School in San Francisco in 1961″We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated. The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. . . Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. . . . We must electronically control the brain. Someday armies and generals will be controlled by electronic stimulation of the brain.” — Dr. Jose M.R. Delgado, Director of Neuropsychiatry, Yale University Medical School, Congressional Record, No. 26, Vol. 118, February 24, 1974.

  • Inkling

    We must support anything that with empower families to get much needed help for Mentally Ill family members they care about. There are thousands of families literally torn up and traumatized because they have absolutely no say so in getting help for a family member they love. My family was severly impacted by a Mentally Ill family member requiring us to sell our home, relocate across the country, change addresses and names and was the cause for nearly losing jobs, losing close friends and tremendous stress. This family member has cycled in and out of hospitals and treatment over 25+ times in the last 2 years and in many cases family members tried to get long term care with no success.

    The impact of Mental Illness goes way beyond just the Mentally Ill individual extending into family members and this must be considered when deciding how much power a family has in encouraging and even forcing treatment. 

  • Barbara

    Part of my concern with debate is the broad sweep of the term “mental illness”. Are we suggesting an application of these rules to everyone who seeks treatment for mental health and is prescribed medication as part of their treatment regime? Is every cry for help a terminal sentence? Are we going to stigmatize and legally monitor every admission of anger, rage or hopelessness to a mental health professional? Why is mental illness treated with such horror? Isn’t it possible that a person with an untreated physical illness can pose as great a threat? Untreated heart disease, diabetes? How do these affect a person’s ability to operate machinery? Their moods? Physical and mental illnesses are so not discussed with the same tone of compassion. Imagine simply this example, “Good morning boss, I’m calling in sick. I’m feeling queasy and dizzy and need to stay in bed today.” versus “Good morning boss. I’m calling in sick. I’m feeling overwhelmed and weepy and I need to stay in bed today.”

  • Cstrawson

    Thank you for considering the topic
    of outpatient commitment on your show of 1/29/13. Because of our broken system,
    my schizophrenic brother died at the age of 54, just a year ago.  If West Virginia’s
    outpatient commitment law was enforced, he would be alive
    today.  The actual cause of death was pneumonia. In his delusional
    state he wanted birds to come into his apartment to eat seed, so he left
    his
    windows wide open in the extreme cold. 
    He was delusional because he was off his medication.  For years he was
    stable and lived independently with a monthly injection of
    Prolixin.  Unfortunately, that medication
    was withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer.

     

    His psychiatrist had tried several available
    alternatives, but these required more frequent doses and my brother was not
    stable enough to reliably medicate himself. He needed at least two weeks
    in a locked facility with trained professionals to make sure that he took his
    medication.

     

    I made three attempts to have him
    committed for the time required, but the psychiatric ward at the hospital could
    only keep him for three days on a voluntary basis.  The court denied
    my commitment request, indicating my brother was not a threat to himself or
    others, yet in the extreme January cold, he was outside picking bark off the
    trees for hours on end.  He was eating out of his building’s dumpster,
    even though he had food in his apartment.

     

    Martinsburg, West Virginia used to
    have community workers who checked on clients weekly. Federal and state
    budget cutbacks for mental health services eliminated those
    positions.  My brother and I spoke by phone frequently and I
    visited him every week or two during his last crisis even though I lived 4
    hours away.  We considered having my brother live with us, but we did
    not feel that we could ensure his compliance with taking his medication or
    prevent him from wandering away when he decomped.

     

    How do we treat our most vulnerable
    citizens?  In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson espouses the
    fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If
    the state of West Virginia had temporarily denied my brother his liberty
    for 2-4 weeks by involuntary commitment, he might still have his life
    today.
     

  • Rlupodimare

    One of main if not the main problem with mental health care is when a person with mental problems becomes 18 years old. He or she is treated as normal when he or she is on medication. If a parent wishes to obtain information on one’s son or daughter from the health care provider which includes a myriad  of psychologist, psychiatrist and other medical professionals, these people will not provide a parent with the information unless the patient signs  release….. as though because the patient who is now medicated is functioning 100% normal and can make his or her own sound decisions without his or her parents, the parents who love them, advice. In essence the host of medical experts including the law become the patients parents whom control every facet of his or her life.
    This type of advocacy becomes a huge cottage industry which controls the patient 100%. In short it is a monster situation to deal with for parents and is very expensive too. Medication is always the solution even though their is no guarantee of the outcome for patient and the parents of the patient. Never is a regiment of exercise or diet included during medication treatment. Clearly, a person who has a mental or severe mental disorder is not able to make sound decisions regardless of his age; being 18 or 21 years of age does not make said person a sane stable  person who is able to make sound decisions because some mangled law says so. Clearly a person with a mental disorder say at about 14 years to 21 years does not know all the legal terms he or she is dealing with. This type of mental help solution (Seattle, Washington) is a win, win for the pharmacies, psychiatrist, Psychologist and of course for attorneys who advocate for patient and make distraught parents pay their super expensive bill. One of the reason patients hate medication, court ordered or not, is that it dulls the patient’s senses…. makes him or her worthless and for the most part unable to get or keep a job.

  • Jmirisola2001

    I am writing on behalf of the estimated 6.76 million parents in this country, of which I am one, who can’t sleep at night, who struggle every day to move bureaucratic boulders up mountains only to have them fall right back down on us and on our children in our desperate efforts to get someone in this country to hear that our children need help! We are sick and tired of being told that it’s somehow our child’s “right to be psychotic!” Since when is being psychotic a right! Don’t they have a right to treatment? Or, how about a right to sanity?

    Every day we are being made to watch our children suffer unimaginable pain, struggling with horrible voices in their heads telling them things like, “we are going to capture you and torture you” or, “you must die NOW” and on, and on…. Some of us have been murdered by our sick children when they were untreated and allowed by this country to remain psychotic. Many of us live in fear every day that our children might one day kill us because we are trying so hard to get help for them when they don’t know they are sick. Or, we worry that they might take their own lives or someone else’s. Yet no one seems to hear our pleas to get help for them.

    An estimated 4.5 million Americans today suffer from the severest forms of mental illness, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (2.2 million people suffer from schizophrenia and 2.3 million suffer from bipolar disorder). Approximately 50 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and 40 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder suffer from anosognosia, an impaired awareness of their illness. Impaired awareness of illness means that the person does not recognize that he/she is sick. The person believes that their delusions and hallucinations are real. Impaired awareness of illness is the same thing as lack of insight. The term used by neurologists for impaired awareness of illness is anosognosia, which comes from the Greek word for disease (nosos) and knowledge (gnosis). It literally means “to not know a disease.” This is NOT about DENIAL on their part! They simply do not know they are sick. Largely, it’s these individuals who are our children. This country has abandoned them and they have abandoned us as their parents.

    It’s estimated that 250,000 of our children with schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness are homeless among the 744,000 homeless population (total homeless population statistic based on data from a 2007 national survey). In a 2006 Special Report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimated that 705,600 of our mentally ill children were incarcerated in State prisons, 78,800 in Federal prisons and 479,900 in local jails.

    Our children are wandering homeless in our streets, or in prisons and jails all over this county! They are your neighbors! Any Psychiatrist, Mental Health Professional, Doctor, DHHS Commissioner, Disability Rights Activist, or Politician in this country should be well aware of all these facts and, it should be crystal clear to all of you that our children cannot help themselves, yet you would have them eating out of trash cans in our streets and jailed in our prisons. I bet not a single one of you would allow your own Mother or Father to wander homeless in the streets or be jailed because they were suffering from Alzheimer’s, yet you allow our children to be doomed to that fate.

    This country has essentially created an apartheid of the mentally ill in the name of Dorothea Dix by shutting down our hospitals and warehousing our children (an estimated 3.8 million of them) in prisons, on our streets, and in our homes where we are being denied access to the treatment that could save them. Why won’t you hear that we are our wits end!

    The simple answer is, get them medicine immediately to restore their sanity and then you can have a reasonable discussion with them about why you did what you had to do to get them well. By allowing them to be untreated, you are only allowing their disease to progress, thus becoming a refractory illness in many cases – resistant to medications they once weren’t resistant to. It’s well documented that longer someone is allowed to remain psychotic, the harder it is to bring them back. Brain damage is caused and sometimes they don’t come back.

    If someone were incapacitated by a heart attack, a seizure, or a stroke, would you wait for them to become conscious before getting their permission to treat them? I don’t think so. If this were your child, are you telling me that you would just leave him psychotic, knowing what that would do to his brain? Would you want him to loose the past 13 years of his life as mine has, beaten up, jailed, homeless and cycling in and out of hospitals because no one will keep him long enough for him to regain his sanity and, once in the community, no one will give us as his parents a tool to see that he takes his medicine every day so that he can remain well? I don’t think so. AOT provides a way to get our children into treatment, including medicine, they absolutely must have in order to regain their sanity.

    Stop telling us this is a civil rights issue! This is NOT a civil rights issue, but a medical one! Please understand that for once and for all and give us the tools to get our children the help they need NOW! President Obama has said we must protect our most vulnerable. Well, our children suffering from these illnesses need to be counted amongst those most vulnerable.

    It’s this country’s sacred and unavoidable duty to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves and to protect it’s population. I am pleading with all of you to stop debating this issue and take action now! Please help us to restore our children’s lives.

    Sincerely,
    Jeanne Mirisola
    Cape Neddick, ME 03902
    jmirisola2001@yahoo.com

  • James, Sr

    I am only speaking about one specific situation. When the nature of a person is within some parameters, the individual has the capacity for and engages in self-reflection, and they were nurtured to to break down in a manner that minimizes harm to others. In this case, I have witnessed it is the disrespect for an individual’s civil rights that causes the greatest harm. What those people need is prevention not treatment. I have seen how beneficial the love, kindness, understanding, and guidance of their family, their friends, and even strangers has made a world of difference. Tragically, I have also seen how many people didn’t think that they could really make a difference and so they failed to take the time or put in the effort to save a life with an otherwise promising future. This doesn’t require us to do anything more than accept our responsibilities to those we love and to accept our role in a civil society. We managed to do this for centuries before the advent of psychiatry and the diseasing of what our forefathers called life. We cannot hand everything off to mental health experts as there are simply not enough and they need to treat those who getting enough hugs won’t make a difference. I’m making a plea for discernment, collective responsibility, and ultimately sanity. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me or welcome my contribution but if I can reach at least 10 men and women with my message then I have made a difference and for me there would be reason enough for to think this world can still be saved.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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