I watched the TV airing of CBS’s 60 minutes programme one Sunday which featured the story of American Creigh Deeds whose son attacked him and proceeded to commit suicide while in the throes of a bipolar episode. It pained me to learn that in the US it can take up to 3 months to secure an appointment with a psychiatrist should you have a mental breakdown and need immediate attention. More shocking was that once hospitalized (provided there is a free bed) then stabilized (not obviously a threat to yourself or others) and after a maximum of only 6 days you must give up your bed (whether or not you have insurance) to someone needing more urgent attention, and go home.
Who is providing in-home care services to patients and assisting their parents, spouses, siblings and friends to maintain their care?
Managing a mental health disorder is a full-time job which generally begins manifesting between the ages of 18 and 25. Hence, it’s a long lifetime commitment not just for the individual but his/her loved ones as well. If in America, this is the situation, I shudder to think what is happening in poorer nations.
Then there is stigma- as if things could get any worse.
Many are at a loss as to whether persons living with psychiatric illnesses can be helped; are capable of taking care of themselves at all or are safe to be around etc. The answers are, yes, yes, yes and yes. In the long run, it is better for mental health patients to survive their illness outside the walls of an institution. Like everyone else, we do have the capacity to responsibly manage our lives with the illness and be active and integral parts of family, community, school and work life. The problem is, the “community” doesn’t know that yet.
Attending to the needs of persons with mental health challenges must become a priority of the public health system and the government at large. Leaving all the work to the “community” hasn’t worked yet and its been 59 years since deinstitutionalization in America http:// http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums/special/excerpt.html.