Thursday, March 6, 2014

When a Life Starts to Unravel, Where Do Families Turn For Help?

Until you have journeyed along the same path, it's difficult to understand the fine line many families walk with loved ones with severe mental illness.  It's a winding path with unexpected twists and turns, and often times deadly ones. 

I highlight this story as an example of why it is not prudent to intentionally create a pilot law and program that allows ONLY families to petition for mandatory assisted outpatient treatment for loved ones, as Tennessee has done. It's simply not the standard. The best model would be other successful AOT program across the United States that allow petitioners to be providers, healthcare workers, law enforcement -- anyone besides weary and vulnerable family members.

Last year this article appeared in the New York Times. It tells the story of Carolyn Reinach Wolf, who is not a psychiatrist or a mental health professional, but a lawyer who has carved out what she says is a unique niche, working with families of the severe and persistent mentally ill. She is the help families seek when a life starts to unravel.  We only wish there were more like her.
Many of Ms. Wolf’s clients declined to be interviewed for this article, but the few who spoke offered an unusual window on the arcane twists and turns of the mental health care system, even for families with money. Their stories illustrate how fraught and sometimes blind such a journey can be.
Read the article here:

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