Involuntary Commitment Radio Show Sparks Lots Of Calls & Comments – As Expected

Dr. Dinah Miller, Diane Rehm, Pete Earley, Dr. Annette Hanson

Dr. Dinah Miller, Diane Rehm, Pete Earley, Dr. Annette Hanson

(11-29-16) Few topics are as hotly debated as Involuntary Commitment, which was the featured topic on the second hour of the Diane Rehm show today. The reason for the discussion was  COMMITTED: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care, a new book by Drs. Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson. I was invited because I wrote the book’s foreword.

You can listen to the entire hour program here. 

After the program, Drs. Miller and Hanson spent a half hour answering comments on Facebook — and there were plenty of them and questions that I’ve included in this post.  You can also read more comments and an excerpt from the book here.

Robin McNary Cole As a parent of a young adult with Schizoaffectve disorder, who has been involuntarily hospitalized, and as the current President of NAMI(National Alliance of Mental Illness) in Miami-Dade County, I would like to point out that there are many effective See More
The Diane Rehm Show We totally agree. We also think that families should be given the information and resources they need to help loved ones with new onset disorders. We need more voluntary care and easier access to services. ~Dr. Annette Hanson
Coles Lee What happens when abuse occurs and the prior psychiatric patient no longer trusts the profession that traumatized them? Can they ever get help?
The Diane Rehm Show There is always hope for recovery. Sometimes it can take a while to find a psychiatrist with the right “goodness of fit,” but they do exist. We encourage people to report experiences of abuse when they occur–contact your state health department. Every state has a protection and advocacy organization which investigates and monitors hospitals. ~ Dr. Annette Hanson
R Mark Heschel I wonder how many involuntary commitments would be avoided if our society accepted those with mental illness and mental illness could be discussed openly without stigma or being branded.
I believe if mental illness could be openly and humanly discussed maybe the person with mental problems could receive help before the illness progressed to the extent of commitment.
The Diane Rehm Show Absolutely, we believe that one of the “answers” is to catch mental disorders earlier in their course so that extreme measures are not needed! ~Dr. Dinah Miller
Thomas Riedy I have a loved one that I believe may be psychotic. She is currently on probation and other than my support she has nothing and no family that are willing to help. I am in AZ, where can I turn for help?
The Diane Rehm Show Some options might be to check the back of their health insurance card, see if you can get an appointment for her at a community mental health center, or call your local NAMI chapter for guidance. Arizona has tight resources. ~Dr. Miller
Christina Alana Jolokai I am a Marriage and Family Therapy graduate student and have worked in the social service sector for quite some time. My question for the panel is: Why isn’t there a middle step (alternative) instead of the jail/hospital ultimatum? Also, why haven’t weSee More
 The Diane Rehm Show We talk a lot about this in our book. We do think there are good examples of alternative programs: mental health courts, mobile treatment teams, crisis response teams, and crisis intervention training for police. There aren’t more programs like this, because they all cost money and a willingness to invest in a longterm solution. ~ Dr. Annette Hanson
 Ashley Hammond Hello from Idaho. I am a social worker in adult mental health and some of our biggest challenges are getting people to check into psychiatric care when they have declined without resorting to involuntary measures, what can providers or family members do to help facilitate care without contacting police and further stigmatizing mental illness?
 The Diane Rehm Show This can be terribly difficult. Sometimes if someone is terribly sick and dangerous, there really is no good alternative. In the long run, we feel that easily accessible outpatient services can prevent hospitalization. In Baltimore City there is an outreach service called Baltimore Crisis Response Inc, that will send people to a home for crisis management, but the patient has to agree to be seen. ~Dinah Miller
 Kathryn Rebecca Marguy Everyone has an opinion on forced psychiatric care. Any advice on handling the family dynamics after a loved one has been committed involuntarily?
 The Diane Rehm Show Listen when someone is troubled by how they were treated during an involuntary admission, don’t dismiss their concerns, and don’t argue that they asked for it or it had to be done (even if it did have to be done!) — know that it can be traumatizing and offer support ~Dinah Miller
 Andres McAlister How about the use of hypnosis and alternative medicine
 The Diane Rehm Show So far there are no alternative therapies that are proven to be effective for the treatment of psychosis. Some forms of mental illness, like milder forms of depression, can benefit from non-medication treatments. Be aware that alternative medicines have risks too–they just aren’t all known because they haven’t gone through the FDA approval process. ~ Dr. Annette Hanson
 Gail Eidman What preventative methods can one take for a teen who is predisposed for schizophrenia?
 The Diane Rehm Show Watch for prodromal symptoms and don’t smoke marijuana or use hallucinogens. We don’t have absolute preventive measures. ~Dr. Miller
 Rob Metcalf I’ve been in and out of psychiatrists, psychologists, IOP’s, and crisis centers most of my life, and everytime I’ve been diagnosed differently. My latest is major depression, OCD, anxiety, and PTSD. Is the mental health industry getting closer to making more accurate diagnosis?
 The Diane Rehm Show Well, we would hope so. People can have more than one diagnosis and symptoms can change over time. We hope that someday there will be more definitive answers. ~Dinah Miller
 Lauren Kenneth Lambert AS a former mental health worker, i am acquainted with a person who was refused hospitalization for just the reasons just described, and left the office and purposely ran in front of a 18 wheeler and killed himself.
As a former mental health worker, there are just too many ridiculous forms and documentary procedures involved, i ended up spending more of my time doing paperwork than actually helping the people.
 The Diane Rehm Show What an awful outcome. We wholeheartedly agree that in all of medicine the emphasis on paperwork distracts from patient care. It’s a travesty. ~Dinah Miller
 Maran Serakh When friends overreacted to a Facebook post, rather than speak to me about it, they opted to call the police and tell them I was suicidal. I wasn’t. But that didn’t stop the police from bringing me in for an “assessment” – which in Florida involves a tSee More
 The Diane Rehm Show This is why we wrote our book! We want inpatient units, doctors, nurses, and others to be aware of behaviors and practices that cause long-term psychological harm. We are sorry you had such a miserable experience. This is not all psychiatric care. ~Dr. Hanson & Dr. Miller
Questions and comments that didn’t get answered because of time constraints
J Ross Dock Hester As a Psychiatric PA I strongly endorse your one guest in saying that voluntary care and the resources to pay for it are way too scarce, but also, as your other guest points out, without “patient buy in” they will be noncompliant BOTH with medication and therapy.
Deborah Hailey Thank you for an important show. My mom was diagnosed schizophrenic in the fifties and involuntarily sent to many hospitals including U of VA, DeJarnette and Johns Hopkins. It was not a happy time for our family, and I can only begin to imagine the nightmare that was my mother’s reality. One of my current focuses is help for the children of patients, who can feel trauma too.
Rebecca Wiglama Listening from North Carolina. I am shocked by how closely the descriptions of trauma I’m hearing mirror my experiences giving birth in a hospital. A woman in labor is often treated as a person who isn’t mentally competent. Few take the time to recogniSee More
Randall Griffith Such a necessary and excellent book and discussion. Thank you authors. My question: what is it that mental health professionals can do? I do not see commitment laws being reviewed in the future, only being made tougher. And what about the fact that the law gives any MD the authority to place any citizen under involuntary hold?
Charity Lynn Excellent show today Diane. It’s a complicated world we live in, but I was so encouraged by the two women that called in and gave their stories. Hope and help need to come first.
Christina Scott I’m currently receiving ECT bi-weekly and taking guanfacine they say to inhibit the fight or flight response…Have you heard of that?
Lee Clinton What are our options for dealing with a new president with a psychiatric illness?
Mark Villalpando Are you indirectly still talking about trump because hes still delusional and believes the election is rigged?
Judy Schmaeling Erickson Can’t wait for the weekend…my husband and I catch up on your show.
Ahmed El Gharzaoui Do drugs designed for the purpose of curing mental illnesses cause patient addiction an dependence on them ? Thankyou
Marilyn Hutchens Wulfekuhler Are there pointers to resources on what a family member can do to get someone help?
Claudia Lange OMG! What state was this in? How absolutely terrifying for you!
Bob Bennett Why has the research done outside of drugs, been so ignored by the mental health system?
Rose Marie That was a very interesting segment!!!
Dan Cachenout Bohlen MORE crazy people need to be locked up!
Emily Zeballos Nicole check out the book
Bob Bennett Those in the mental health system – and particularly those advocating for more forced care, need to take a step back and take the time to re-examine the current system. –…/
Cecelia Akin Listening from York, PA. My mother was mentally ill throughout my entire childhood. In the mid-1960’s, my sister and I had her committed to the state mental hospital in Harrisburg, PA. She was diagnosed as being a chronic, paranoid, schizophrenic. She See More
Rosemary Alberghini Where people have been involuntarily committed, I have seen, as a past worker in the mental health system, there has overwhelmingly been a positive outcome. This is true of my own son. At the time, he was fortuNate there was an opening for him at the sSee More
Maria Mangicaro Advocates who work to advance forced psychiatric treatment must also consider how can they protect the rights of the #mentalhealth consumer?Services provided during involuntary commitment are not free.See More
Robert M Cox As a non-medical mental health professional (I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, in 2 states) whose primary job for over 10 years was working directly with crisis intervention and stabilization–involuntary hospitalization is something I’m intimateSee More
Carol A. Papalas My 96-year old mother who suffered from hallucinatory dementia was involuntarily moved from a nursing home in Dearborn, MI across town to a mental health facility in a poverty-ridden area of Detroit, and without consulting her doctor. The weekend case See More
Sandy Palmer Thank you for this program. My son has experienced many of these issues and I requested his admission at one point but when he got to the hospital via the police there was no bed so he was detained in the emergency room for almost 3 full days. I also fSee More
Kate Watts Can your guests address the problem of gaslighting victims, with adult abusers claiming underage victims are just mentally ill and forcibly hospitalising them? This happened to me when I was 15 (in 1992).
Dev Scott Flores I’m late to the discussion, but feel so strongly about this subject matter where young (under 26) brains are concerned.
I have known FAR too many youth whose families committed them for a normal range of behaviors to be found in adolescence. InvariabSee More
About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.