The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

Where politics and psychiatry collide September 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 2:04 am
Tags: , ,

I don’t know why I haven’t written a post yet on politics and psychiatry. I’ve written about each one separately, but a post over at Mm’s blog about NAMI’s basic mental health primer for politicians started me on a soapbox rant. Most of this post is from the comment I left on her post.

I’ve been spending lots of time lately talking about politics–farmers markets, door-to-door canvasses, phone banks to New Hampshire. I talk about women’s rights, gay rights, healthcare, advertising campaigns, fiscal policy…you name it. But no one talks about politicians’ stances on mental health care. We like to pretend there’s no longer stigma attached, but anything that can’t be discussed openly is still stigmatized. And when there is public conversation about mental illness, its causes and solutions get way oversimplified. We need to have a real, in-depth public conversation about it.

My worry with politicians who have very little knowledge of mental health issues–and even many who are knowledgeable–is the tendency toward forcible and/or coercive treatment. Mainstream psychiatry has a strong tendency toward dehumanizing paternalism–as can governments. Combine government and psychiatry and the paternalism turns into authoritarianism that can do great harm to consumers. See, in politics, money is power, and pharmaceutical companies have lots of money.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle call for mental health reforms every so often. I’m sure many of these lawmakers are well-intentioned, but they aren’t well-informed. They try to take constructive steps like shutting down state hospitals. But then they either don’t follow it through (leaving mentally ill people homeless and without access to treatment) or they just switch to a different flavor of authoritarianism (like outpatient commitment laws that forcibly drug people in the community).

What we need are TRULY informed lawmakers. They need to understand that force and coercion hurt consumers, that meds are not the only or the entire answer, that what helps one person may not be the answer for someone else, that consumers need to be fully informed and fully involved in their treatment. They need to understand that they cannot save us from ourselves–we have to do that for ourselves–but they can help us meet basic needs and help us get access to a FULL RANGE of treatment options.

Advertisements
 

7 Responses to “Where politics and psychiatry collide”

  1. Ellen Says:

    Full range of treatment options – wouldn’t that be nice. Not about to happen in Canada either, unfortunately.

    • weordmyndum Says:

      What I’ve heard from Canadian friends is that mental health treatment is affordable but not available. (I knew a woman who died from complications of bulimia because some bureaucrat decided she wasn’t sick enough for treatment.) Here, the problem is that care is available and not affordable. If I didn’t live in Massachusetts, I wouldn’t be able to afford therapy.

      • Ellen Says:

        You can see a psychiatrist here, that’s covered by provincial insurance. There are waiting lists though. I haven’t found psychiatry helpful, so I pay out of pocket for another type of therapist. Couldn’t have afforded it until this point in my life. Only psychiatry is considered a valid type of treatment here.

        Not too sure about the woman with bulimia story – bureaucrats don’t make those kinds of decisions here, so that would not be a common occurrence.
        take care

  2. brandic32 Says:

    “What we need are TRULY informed lawmakers. They need to understand that force and coercion hurt consumers, that meds are not the only or the entire answer, that what helps one person may not be the answer for someone else, that consumers need to be fully informed and fully involved in their treatment. They need to understand that they cannot save us from ourselves–we have to do that for ourselves–but they can help us meet basic needs and help us get access to a FULL RANGE of treatment options.”
    ^^^ Yes, yes, and yes. You should be speaking at the democratic national convention 🙂

    • weordmyndum Says:

      I wish! I’d love to be at the convention.

      The problem is neither party wants to have an in-depth public discussion about mental health. It’s all talking points: suicide is bad, meds are good, the end. They’re afraid to have the conversation, like talking about mental illness would make it contagious.

      Another problem is that when lawmakers do talk about mental illness, they don’t invite consumers into the conversation. It’s the same thing many treaters do–they talk about us or at us instead of to us. You can’t talk about discrimination and oppression without the voice of the oppressed.

  3. mm172001 Says:

    Reblogged this on Mm172001's Blog and commented:
    Someone else’s well worded thoughts on politics and mental health.

  4. aynetal3 Says:

    I feel there is a big gap between people who know or “deal with” mental illness and those who don’t. I agree there is still a huge stigma. We have been working on a few projects over at the news blog we started last month, but one is to address the stigma’s/MYTHS about multiplicity. Each of the articles that we address are real and come from Google searches on either DID or MPD … sometimes, you just can’t believe what’s out there. Please take a look. We’d be real interested in hearing your opinion. *Most winning smile!*

    http://learni.st/users/ann.l.garvey/boards/3683-news-dissociative-identity-disorder-did-multiple-personality-disorder-mpd-myths-1

    http://learni.st/users/ann.l.garvey/boards/4040-news-dissociate-identity-disorder-did-multiple-personality-disorder-mpd-myths-2

    Our best,
    Anns

    http://newsdidmpd.blogspot.com
    http://annsmultipleworldofpersonality.blogspot.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s