A big thank you from me to Dinah Miller, Xavier Amador, Chrisa Hickey, Tracey Skale, and Erika for offering advice last week to A Concerned Parent during my week-long WE’VE LOST HOPE series. Each of them did an excellent job. I devoted a week to answering a single letter because it was representative of the heart-breaking emails that are sent to me. On the same Monday when the series began, I received this email:
“Son had a psychotic break in 2010 stabbed step-father. found not guilty by reason of insanity due to phentermine and chantix given to him by a general practitioner who knew he was bipolar and on meds. after jail stay of 2 years, son put in transition home where he sat and did nothing. psychiatrist saw him for 15 minutes while talking on the phone the entire time. changed meds that worked to cheaper drugs that didn’t work. sent to hospital, discharged to street with no money or id. case manager from transitional home “forgot” to take son to medicare appointments or inform them of his hospitilization. all benefits cancelled. case manager fired. son no benefits at all. in shelter, mandated court order states he must have supervision for meds, he doesn’t,
cannot live with parents, attorney doesn’t want judge or da to know. son had never been violent. had benefits for 10 years, now gone. living in a violent area told not to leave the property because of drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes. son 27 and considered slow. mental health system total failure. he is now considered indigent. we pay copay for meds and initially cost for all drugs. so much more info but sounds unbelievable as it is so bizzare. i am a social worker, retired, but cannot even help my son. i have been lied to by more mental health professionals than i can count.i guess you can believe this as you have heard many stories.
what to do?
I suggested the parent read the advice being offered during the week. I hope it helped. Letters such as these and my own experiences are evidence of how people are suffering because of our faulty mental health care system that too often fails our loved ones despite the best efforts of dedicated professionals.
The only way to solve these issues is by shining a spotlight on the problems and advocating for meaningful change!
On a lighter note, my son, Kevin, and I saw the movie, Silver Lining Playbook, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The movie’s main character is a young man with bipolar disorder who has been released from a mental hospital. He returns to his highly dysfunctional family and eventually finds balance in his life. The scenes that depict mania were painfully realistic to any parent who has had to deal with an adult child who refuses to take medication and is convinced there is nothing wrong with their behavior or demands. Two unrealistic moments came when the audience was told that Pat had been in a mental institution for eight months (if you are involuntarily committed in Va, the average length of time is five to 30 days – at best) and when he later is seen engaging in therapy with his psychiatrist. Okay, I know that happens, but too many doctors today spend about 15 minutes with patients doing med checks and leave it up to social workers to handle the rest.
Despite my picky points, this movie does a good job portraying mental disorders without stigmatizing the characters.
I didn’t realize I had a TWITTER account until last week when my son, Evan, who runs my website, mentioned it. Even more surprising, I discovered I had some 200 followers. Evan taught me how to tweet so I have decided to begin sending out more of them. Most will be about articles that I have found worthwhile. Please join me on twitter – just don’t ask me how you can do that! Evan also suggested that I begin posting a blog each Friday from my archives because of a much appreciated jump in new readers who might have missed older posts. Stay tuned for From the Files Fridays!
Kudos to Trudy Harsh, the housing activist I’ve written about previously. Trudy recently won another well-deserved award, this one is called the Good Neighbor Award. It got her an appearance on our local Washington DC area FOX News station. You might recall that Trudy grew tired of endless meetings where people complained about a lack of housing in Fairfax County but did little to address the problem. Using her knowledge as a realtor, she launched the Brain Foundation. To date, it has purchased six homes and offered 24 persons with mental illnesses housing.
Trudy continues to be an inspiration, giving all of us HOPE and reminding us of the power of a single individual to change lives!