The fight for improved health care for those with mental illness has been an ongoing and important struggle for advocates in the United States who are aware of the difficulties faced by the mentally ill and those who take care of them. People unfortunate enough to be inflicted with the burden of having a severe mental illness experience dramatic changes in their behavior and go through psychotic episodes severe enough to the point where they are a burden to not only themselves but also to people in their society. Mental institutions are equipped to provide specialized treatment and rehabilitative services to severely mentally ill patients, with the help of these institutions the mentally ill are able to get the care needed for them to control their illness and be rehabilitated to the point where they can become a functional part of our society. Deinstitutionalization has led to the closing down and reduction of mental institutions, which means the thousands of patients who relied on these mental institutions have now been thrown out into society on their own without any support system to help them treat their mental illness. Years after the beginning of deinstitutionalization and after observing the numerous effects of deinstitutionalization it has become very obvious as to why our nation needs to be re-institutionalized.
Mental healthcare has a long and murky past in the United States. In the early 1900s, patients could live in institutions for many years. The treatments and conditions were, at times, inhumane. Legislation in the 1980s and 1990s created programs to protect this vulnerable population from abuse and discrimination. In the last 20 years, mental health advocacy groups and legislators have made gains in bringing attention to the disparity between physical and mental health programs. However, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses continues to be less than optimal. Mental health disparities continue to exist in all areas of the world.
Forcing someone to take medication or be hospitalized against their will seems contrary to an individual’s right to refuse medical treatment, however, the issue becomes complicated when it involves individuals suffering from a mental illness. What should be done when a person has lost their grasp on reality, or if they are at a risk of harming themselves or others? Would that justify denying individuals the right to refuse treatment and issuing involuntary treatment? Numerous books and articles have been written which debates this issue and presents the recommendations of assorted experts.
“Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior” (Mayo Clinic). Mental disorders can happen many times through one’s life, but mental illness is classified as an ongoing problem with the symptoms that can affect the ability to perform normal day to day tasks (Mayo Clinic). Many people look at those afflicted with mental disorders as being crazy or clinically insane, while the reality is a problem many people live with on a daily basis with help from medications, psychologist visits, family, friends, help groups, and many other support systems. The lack of support available to mentally ill patients, the more that will refuse treatment and refuse to find help for their disorders. Many people who were born with mental disorders grow up knowing they have a problem, but people who develop them later in age don’t understand how to cope with it.
In the book “The Mad Among Us-A History of the Care of American’s Mentally Ill,” the author Gerald Grob, tells a very detailed accounting of how our mental health system in the United States has struggled to understand and treat the mentally ill population. It covers the many different approaches that leaders in the field of mental health at the time used but reading it was like trying to read a food label. It is regurgitated in a manner that while all of the facts are there, it lacks any sense humanity. While this may be more of a comment on the author or the style of the author, it also is telling of the method in which much of the policy and practice has come to be. It is hard to put together without some sense of a story to support the action.
Gupta, M. (2001): Treatment refusal in the involuntarily hospitalized psychiatric population: Canadian policy and practice. In: Medicine and Law, Vol. 20, Issue 2, pp. 245-265.
Although about 450 million people in the world currently are suffering from a mental illness, many untreated, the topic still remains taboo in modern society (Mental Health). For years, people with mental illnesses have been shut away or institutionalized, and despite cultural progression in many areas, mental illnesses are still shamed and rarely brought to light outside of the psychiatric community. The many different forms in which mental illness can occur are incredibly prevalent in the world today, and there is a substantial debate about the way that they should be handled. Some people are of the opinion that mental illness is merely a variance in perception and that it either can be fixed through therapy or should not be treated at all, and that treatment can have negative side effects. Other groups of people believe that mental illness is a very serious affliction and should be treated as a disease through a combination of counselling and medication because people suffering from an untreated mental illness are a danger to themselves and society as a whole. This debate is a popular one, discussed everywhere from the medical field to the dinner table, and it is such because of the numerous lives it affects on the well-being of fellow members of society and the economy. People suffering from mental illnesses are afflicted with anything from delusions, to manic periods, to periods of deep emotional darkness due to experiences and brain chemistry (Johnson). Due to the negative effects untreated mental illness has been proven to have on the human well-being and society as a whole, medication should most certainly be seen as a valid and sometimes necessary way to treat those who suffer from mental illnesses.
As a society, we try to get rid of things we are afraid of, things which make us nervous and things we don't understand. Perhaps mental illness is not so much a problem for the mentally ill, but for their communities who can not and will not empathize with them. I wonder if people suffering from a mental illness are not really suffering at all, but are simply a behavioral minority. Their behavior prevents them from being accepted by the majority. They can not find work or often even a place to live, as these things are controlled by the majority. Instead, for those that are ironically considered lucky, the majority gives them medication and often sends them away to a locked facility.
(Justia US Law website, n.d.) This means that involuntarily committed patients do have the right to refuse psychiatric treatment as long as they do not pose a danger to themselves or others as determined by a medical provider using professional judgement. (Wortzel, 2006, para. 6) The refusal of treatment is an issue because mental health professionals know that the medications will help the patient, however also knowing that forcing medication could be a liability. (Oriol & Oriol,
In today’s society there is a greater awareness of mental illnesses. With this greater awareness one might assume that there would be a substantial increase in government involvement or funding in the area of mental illness treatment. Unfortunately this isn’t the case in the U.S. today. There are hundreds of thousands of people with mental illness that go untreated. These potential patients go untreated for many reasons. These reasons are discussed in the Time article “Mental Health Reform: What Would it Really Take.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines mental illness as a disruption in neural circuits. Mental illness is a social phenomenon which has been around since the prehistoric times. It is unequally distributed across social, ethnic and gender groups in the UK. The explanations for these differences rest upon biological, economic, cultural and institutional factors. Despite these, many medical advancements have made to treat mental illnesses. Looking at the history of mental illness, it was a widespread belief that mental illness is caused by spiritual or religious reasons, and rituals were used as the means to treat the individuals similar to today. So what is mental illness? The term itself covers broad of emotional and psychological
As science has evolved, so have treatments for mental illnesses have over time. The medical model is described as the view that psychological disorders are medical diseases with a biological origin (King, 2010, pg. 413). Abnormal behavior that categorizes some disorders can be impacted by biological factors such as genes, psychological factors such as childhood experiences, and even sociocultural factors such as gender and race (King, 2010). Treatments such as psychosurgery (lobotomy) , drug therapy (pharmaceuticals), electroconclusive therapy, and psychoanalysis are used to treat a wide range of psychological disorders. Back then, the public’s negative views on mental illnesses also went as far to associate with the people who treated it; psychiatrists. “Nunnally (1961) found that the public evaluated professionals who treated mental disorders significantly more negatively than those who treat physical disorders,” (Phelan, Link, Stueve, & Pescosolido, 2000, pg. 189). People back then didn’t see the point in “paying to be told that they were crazy”. However, in today’s society, it is now acceptable to seek help from psychiatric professionals; we are seeing more and more people seek mental health treatment. “In terms of facility-based records of utilization (Manderscheid and Henderson 1998), the data suggest that the rate of utilization of professional mental health services has at least doubled and maybe tripled, between the 1950’s and today,” (Phelan, Link, Stueve, & Pescosolido, 2000, pg. 189). In the 1950’s, neuroleptic drugs like Thorazine were introduced to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. These drugs block a neurotransmitter called dopamine from getting to the brain, which in turn reduce schizophrenic symptoms, however there are some side effects such as substantial twitching of the neck, arms, and legs, and even dysphoria or lack of pleasure. (King, 2010, pg.
Continuing budget cuts on mental health care create negative and detrimental impacts on society due to increased improper care for mentally ill, public violence, and overcrowding in jails and emergency rooms. Origins, of mental health as people know it today, began in 1908. The movement initiated was known as “mental hygiene”, which was defined as referring to all things preserving mental health, including maintaining harmonious relation with others, and to participate in constructive changes in one’s social and physical environment (Bertolote 1). As a result of the current spending cuts approaching mental health care, proper treatment has declined drastically. The expanse of improper care to mentally ill peoples has elevated harmful threats of heightened public violence to society.
Mental illness has been around as long as people have been. However, the movement really started in the 19th century during industrialization. The Western countries saw an immense increase in the number and size of insane asylums, during what was known as “the great confinement” or the “asylum era” (Torrey, Stieber, Ezekiel, Wolfe, Sharfstein, Noble, Flynn Criminalizing the Seriously Mentally Ill). Laws were starting to be made to pressure authorities to face the people who were deemed insane by family members and hospital administrators. Because of the overpopulation in the institutions, treatment became more impersonal and had a complex mix of mental and social-economic problems. During this time the term “psychiatry” was identified as the medical specialty for the people who had the job as asylum superintendents. These superintendents assumed managerial roles in asylums for people who were considered “alienated” from society; people with less serious conditions wer...
As time goes on, the law has put more emphasis on facility just like Bridgewater State Hospital in which many of the actions of the facility workers can face legal consequences such as facing prison time, fines, lawsuits, and etc. Society has a better understanding of why certain people act the way that they do and being more knowledgeable about psychology and mental diseases allows us to have a different approach when dealing with these topics or these individuals. In today’s era, there are many normal individuals who are willing to stand up for those who do not have a voice of their own. I believe that this change in one’s ability to stand up for another individual or group of individuals is what brought about change to the medical environment of those who are mentally