Mental health care? For too many, what actually occurs is mental illness criminalization. How could this be? A new video from The Treatment Advocacy Center, called Mental Illness on Trial, explains how.
In 1963, President Kennedy signed The Community Mental Health Act. Its purpose was to transform the public mental health system from large, impersonal, neglectful, deficient, and even corrupt institutions to more humane and effective community mental health treatment options. The process was called “deinstituionalization”. The goal was noble, but the execution was disgraceful. Instead of loved ones being deinstitutionalized from hospitals, they were reinstitutionalized, mostly in jails. Thus was mental illness effectively criminalized.
The Treatment Advocacy Center has long following this abysmal trend and advocated for sufficient treatment for all loved ones needing it. Mental Illness On Trial very effectively describes this urgent problem. The film describes the radical reduction of psychiatric treatment beds despite our society’s increase in mental illness. Also discussed is the condition of anosognosia, or lack on insight, which often attends to victims of strokes and dementia and especially psychiatric disabilities. Anosognosia causes too many loved ones not to know they actually have psychiatric disabilities and thus to refuse critically needed treatment.
Featured in the film are Rep. Patrick Kennedy, now a mental health advocate, and Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, head of psychiatry at Columbia University (although objectionably dressed in his lordly white lab coat, which unduly overemphasizes the medical model of recovery, instead of more person-friendly attire that would signal more mutuality with others).
Family members navigating the maelstrom of mental illness need to understand both the critical shortage of psychiatric treatment beds in the mental health system and the condition of anosognosia which so bedevils a loved one’s ability to be treated correctly.
See all of PyschOdyssey’s posted videos and documentaries here.