Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Remember, the enemy is the illness.

Reposted from www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org

(August 5, 2014) I am angry and I am tired. In a four day span in Helena, two of our young citizens lost their lives due to the consequences of serious mental illnesses.  

fatherOne was a beloved son and father whose family will wonder every day for the rest of their lives what they could have done to prevent this tragedy. The other was a former neighbor who was a babysitter for our two sons many years ago.  

Deaths like these remind me that psychiatric diseases are very treatable but not the way our system functions today.

Effective treatments can help improve functioning and allow some people with severe mental illness to begin the road to recovery and re-integrate with their families and communities. But we are still waiting for better antipsychotics that genuinely change the course of the illness and help people avoid some of the major side effects. 

The way I see it, this won’t happen because I live in a world that does not recognize serious mental illness as a legitimate disease and there is no push for better and more effective medicines for the most seriously ill.  

I am angry that people in a psychiatric crisis cannot access respectful, thoughtful, compassionate and caring treatment. I am angry that our jails and prisons are overwhelmed with people suffering from serious mental illnesses. I am angry that there are more people in prison with mental illness because there are no inpatient beds when they become sick and very few treatment options. I am angry at our elected officials, public health servants and mental health professionals who tell me that they understand the problem but don’t do anything to improve the situation. 

I am angry at families that do not recognize mental illness or advocate for their family members who are suffering.  I am angry at people who live with serious mental illnesses and - maybe because of shame and discrimination – don’t try to access treatment.  

Finally, I am tired of attending funerals for the children of families who have been lost due to serious mental illnesses.  

Remember, the enemy is the illness.


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