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Let’s shrink mental health

Mental health departments complain they can’t do their job without more money, but are they doing much to begin with?  After running a home for mental patients, I’d say not.

Think of the mental health system as five levels:

Non-professionals

  1. (1) Patients – many don’t want to get well, and the mental health system gives them little reason to.
  2. (2) Their relatives – many can be difficult.
  3. (3) Non-profes­sionals  [aides, live in staff].

Professionals

  1. (4) Social workers –  bright and cordial, but often idealistic.
  2. (5) Doctors – their theories sound good but are often ineffective.

The non-professionals have a wealth of untapped information about patients, much of it at odds with professionals.

The doctors have the power.  They set what is ‘normal’, and they can confine people; but one wonders about their track record. They used to consider homosexuality a mental problem; now they don’t.   They used to believe smoking and gambling were not mental prob­lems; now they do.  They have not been able to detect fake patients planted on wards, nor been more than 50% successful in predicting violence.   They have been routinely conned by criminals.   Many of their studies are irrelevant, obvious, or innocuous – such as whether long commutes on the freeway lead to irrita­tion.  (And 5% end up in bed with their patients.)

I and other operators of homes for patients deplored the permissiveness of profes­sionals.  They virtually entertained patients to lure them into therapy.  Patients weren’t confronted nor held account­able.  They got room and board, medication, counseling, ac­tivities, and spending money, yet weren’t required to work or to make a sustained effort to get well.  (Some that got well said they did so in spite of the system.)

  1. Honesty is needed about the boredom and lack of incentives, mysterious­ness, overindul­gence, and lack of defini­tion and produc­tivity of the mental health field.
  2. Plain English, brevity, strict accountability, and tradi­tion­al values are needed.  These would diminish the ‘snake pit’ conditions of some institutions and homes.
  3. The field should be studied from the bottom up, starting with patients, relatives, and non­professionals outside the system, then inside.  If done realistically, this should show that many mental patients in care homes are l0% crazy and 90% spoiled, immature and ir­respon­sible.
  4. There should be litera­ture for patients and relatives, so they don’t have to learn through expensive therapy what can be easily learned by studying.
  5. The five levels should rate the literature and the programs.  This would aid consumers and funding organizations, and probably confirm what many studies have claimed – that non-professionals are often as effective as profes­sionals. 
  6. Advocacy groups for the first three levels should seek a parity of power with profes­sionals.
  7. Everyone’s role should be clearly defined and posted.
  8. The system should be turned over to compet­ing, private agencies, which should be paid according to how much patients improve.
  9. Family therapy should be mandatory.
  10. Adult patients should not be allowed to live with their parents, nor see them often.
  11. Leading psychologists and clergymen should clarify where their fields agree and conflict and what their positions are on encounter groups and cults.
  12. Patients who are not motivated should not be allowed to hold others back.
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One Response to “Let’s shrink mental health”

This article keeps it real.

  • Anonymous August 12th, 2011 11:18 pm
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