Never Ending Saga of Community Mental Health

So, as you know I fancy myself a mental health advocate.  I’ve done it for years for a certain charity and now I’m on my own.  I’ve been helping a friend work her way through the horrors that are the Community Mental Health System.  I’m trying to give her strength and a voice.  I wrote in an earlier blog about getting my Congressman involved in this matter.  Well, now it’s really time to get him involved.

So, I finally get my friend, we’ll call her “B”, to make an appointment with the director of the center.  It’s set.  I have her write down everything that has happened to her since she walked in the doors.  It has been horrible treatment that I know is not isolated to my town.  So, she finally gets the courage to do this and we go for the appointment.  They try to tell us that it was scheduled for tomorrow. “B” has a voice recording of the director confirming our appointment for today.  He then expects us to wait 30 mins. while he finishes a conference call.  This was unacceptable.  I then told his little minion (oh, maybe that’s not a nice thing to say…oh well) that we had other engagements (true) and that the director had just lost his chance.  We were now going to the Congressman.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but really aren’t they suppose to value their clients?  She has been treated like a number ever since she started going there.  The crisis center (still a part of this center) actually talked her out of going to the hospital when she was suicidal.  Who does that?  I’m fortunate that I don’t have to go to this center.  I think if I did, I would opt out of treatment.  Just because patients are on state assistance does not give anyone the right to treat them with any less dignity.  They still deserve high quality care.  I understand about state funding cuts to these centers, but those cuts shouldn’t effect whether or not you treat someone with common decency and kindness.  It’s horrible when you walk into a waiting room and the secretary staff is behind glass.  If they’re going to be behind glass, please make it sound proof.  Patients should not be able to hear the staff talking about them.  For one, the staff should not be talking about the patients anyway.

I’m just appalled by the utter lack of concern for patients.  Also, when a patient does finally decide to stand up and say something, they are verbally attacked by the staff.  It’s just wrong.  We all need to take a stand on the quality of care in community mental health clinics, not just in our own towns, but across the nation.  If the quality of care is not there, people will not seek help.  Now, I should qualify all of this…there very well may be some good community mental health clinics around.  If there are, then they should be used as a model for the rest.  The goal is to get people to treatment, treat them well, and help them on the journey to recovery.

Okay, my rant is over on this subject…for today.

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