We've lost our balance on mental illness

  • Article by: CHRISTINE FLOWERS , Philadelphia Daily News
  • Updated: January 4, 2013 - 5:08 AM

Patients' rights, while important, have crowded out other concerns.

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ellenhall2Jan. 4, 13 6:00 AM

I spent Tuesday night in the hospital with my partner who had taken over 30 sleeping pills to try to 'numb' out. She was admitted and spent the night in the ICU with a nurse in the room watching her, and thus, I, sleep in order to make sure she didn't do anything to herself. I cried the entire night feeling more alone and scared than I have ever felt in my entire life. And I cried over and over again. But I actually slept because I felt a sense of peace with someone watching and safe enough to sleep. That is a feeling I can't describe. And the sad thing is that nobody bothered to talk to me and ask me, a person with no mental health issues, what was going on in my household, and what lead to this particular meltdown, and what was needed to make things better. I was asked to leave the room when the psychiatrist talked with her, which I did. And he told her to that it was of paramount importance that she follow up with a doctor to get her mental health issues (bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder) in check. But again, nobody asked me anything or inquired about how things were affecting me or the household. She doesn't have insurance, and I am sure a lot of people with severe problems don't. They asked her if she 'wanted' to stay for 72 hours to get more help. Of course she doesn't think she needs help, which is one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, so she said no. And now there is no help. And she is home. And I am alone and scared and extremely sad. I agree with this author completely. I can't tell you how much what she says resonates with what I feel at this moment. Thank you.

redkayakJan. 4, 13 6:11 AM

We have seen several gut-wrenching massacres caused by people who were known to be mentally ill. Clearly we need to inch the pendulum back just a bit in the other direction. We don't want to move back to involuntary commitment of people with no problems or minor conditions, but we need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and take reasonable steps to protect the public.

wa0tdaJan. 4, 13 6:19 AM

Christine Flowers is a right-wing shill who is quick to jump on the bandwagon to promote the latest conservative talking point. She was one of the chorus calling the President "apologist in chief" during his successful Asian travels. Now she is picking up on the NRA meme that people with mental illness must be marginalized by overbearing registration and tracking - and what? Institutionalization? The fact of the matter is that conservatives just like her have always balked at providing mental health services because they cost money. Jails are full of inmates who should be receiving treatment, and there is a good case to be made for early intervention that might prevent such dismal outcomes. Patients do have rights - but that is not the root of the problem.

boris123Jan. 4, 13 7:15 AM

wa0tda: The shallowness of your political correctness herd allows people with mental illness and other dysfunctions to think they are OK and not ill due to, among other things, the "stigma" attached. As a result they are not treated which includes commitment in many cases. We spend more money than God has on our education system and we are about 30th in the world in education results and have counselors who think kids talking to door knobs are OK and dont need help. Well, what about the stigma of Alfred P. Murrah Federal building, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Aurora...? By the way, that clearly was an apology tour by the socialist in the white house, to deny that, exposes your dissociation disorder.

bikiesterJan. 4, 13 7:28 AM

Most of the arguments she makes could also be applied to guns. In fact, just substitute guns where she writes mental illness and I'd agree with much of this article.

okaybruceJan. 4, 13 7:40 AM

No one is mentioning the elephant in the room - the true cause of the shooting in Connecticut - the breakdown of family and the violence of fatherless boys. Adam would have been a tremendously tough child to raise with a mom and and a dad, but he was totally beyond the limits of a working single mother. The breakdown of the family is the root cause of the vast majority of male violence and criminal behavior. Fathers and mothers matter. Marriage matters.

boris123Jan. 4, 13 7:43 AM

"Most of the arguments she makes could also be applied to guns. In fact, just substitute guns where she writes mental illness and I'd agree with much of this article." >>>>>>>The difference is guns and IEDs are the symptom. People with mental illness are the cause. If you want to cure the problem treat the cause.

CarrieJ64Jan. 4, 13 7:47 AM

I believe that Nancy Lanza wanted to help her son, although I have no real evidence of this. I also believe that, if she wanted to help him, it may have been a difficult enterprise because he was an adult. All that said, she could have helped him and 27 other people, including herself, tremendously if she said to herself when recognizing her son's illness "hmmm, maybe it would be a good idea to not keep my guns in the house where Adam can have access to them." Could he have accessed similar guns elsewhere? Perhaps. But the fact remains that he got them from his mother, a woman who acknowledged that her son needed help with his mental health. I agree with responsible gun ownership, but this was not responsible gun ownership. So..we have two problems to fix.

bythebeachJan. 4, 13 8:28 AM

The writer is only too correct. The pendulum has swung so far that families can't get help for their loved ones who need it. I've watched two of my friends deal with children who are mentally ill. The lack of child psychiatrists in this country is at crisis levels. It can take 9 months to a year to get an appointment. And, once the child reaches 18, the parents have NO rights. Therapists and school officials wouldn't listen to my friend's concerns and "didn't see" what she was seeing until it was too late and he attempted suicide and became violent towards her. Something has to change.

davehougJan. 4, 13 8:35 AM

As with so much political debate folks, it is not Either Or, it is Both And. Better mental health insurance & facilities are part of the solution. Going beyond having shown a danger to posing a danger is also part of the solution. We can BOTH protect patient's rights AND protect the public. I would want any legislation crafted with input from people passionate about both sides.


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