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Ear to the Ground

Patients Seek Greater Role in Mental Health Recovery

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Posted on Jul 8, 2011
Flickr / Sultan al-marzoqi (CC-BY)

One of the biggest obstacles to advancing mental health care and services has long been the attitude that patients should not have a voice in their treatment. But now, a small movement of patients is pushing mental health workers to consider clients’ perspectives more actively in recovery.

The “client movement” encourages patients to participate in their recovery by creating their own programs to reach their goals. It also works to include more doctors and providers who have lived with and overcome mental health illnesses themselves.  —BF

Neon Tommy:

The 53-year-old Gonzalez was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe depression more than two decades ago. Due in large part to a drug and alcohol problem combined with his illness, he spent 12 years in and out of hospitals in New York. At one point, after a suicide attempt, he was put in five-point restraints. He witnessed the results of some of the stigma that existed even within the mental health services profession at the time.

He became frustrated that he was not allowed a voice in his treatment. He wanted to set goals for himself. He most wanted to wean himself off the drugs that had helped lead to his collapse, minimize his reliance on treatment and even go back to work. “They almost teach you to be dependent on them, to be dependent on the system,” he said. “A lot of providers don’t think recovery is possible.”

Gonzalez, along with a network of similarly driven people in Los Angeles, is now part of movement of mental health clients who push for more recognition of the client’s perspective in mental health services.

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zonth_zonth's avatar

By zonth_zonth, July 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Mental health is big business in the States.  Seen any “soma” adds on TV lately?

Modern industrial society will continue to put unnatural demands on individuals.  The beleaguered individual will require pharmaceuticals to modifiy one’s internal state to adapt to external society.

The media experts on mental health, MD’s, the Phd psychologist’s all believe their own pseudoscience Pscy 101 guide to ‘aberrant behavior’. Seemingly never to have read books such as The Sane Society by Erich Fromm—-(gerard’s comments below could practically go on the back cover of this great read)

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By Railbird, July 9, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Prescribing psychotropic drugs is a racket.  Seeking help for emotional problems that could and should be approached via /talk/ therapy, more often than not leads to a prescription based on a guess.  In my granddaughters case, 15 minutes of idle chat led to her /first/ prescription.  Since then she’s be directed to a wide variety of medications, all paid for by California taxpayers and of course, (just as is the case with someone who is abusing /other/ drugs), she’s too mood altered to actually evolve toward emotional maturity, (grow up) so the only winner is the pharmaceutical companies.

Not a fan of Scientology but they are right on this one and their cheap DVD on the history of psychiatry is worth watching for perspective.

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By TDoff, July 9, 2011 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

As soon as the majority of our leaders are properly assessed/diagnosed as Mental Health patients, and join the relatively small percentage now being treated, you can be sure that the movement for the nuts to take over the asylum will gain strength and power.

Soon the Capitol will be enclosed in razor wire, the windows and doors will be iron-gated, not as a security measure to keep the madding, rioting populace out (although that will be recognized as an unanticipated, and useful, benefit), but to keep the poor deranged souls in.

And, finally, a bit of truth will obtain over all the long history of tradition-enhanced hypocrisy, and all US citizens and the world will be able to observe, instead of merely speculate, that the US is ‘lead’, and it’s legislation created, by an assemblage of demented doofi.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, July 9, 2011 at 2:32 am Link to this comment

MH is just another big business in this country. The large MH corporations have learned
how to make billions on the backs of suffering people. Those with insurance are
exploited, those without it are ignored.

Those same corporations, have driven millions of providers out of business, just as they
have driven family practice docs from the field. They are so large and politically powerful,
that they can ignore legal mandates, push unsafe medications, damaging treatments,
and ignore cures that are unprofitable to them.

They have completely warped the field just as they have destroyed medicine.

Those that suffer from diagnoses that are basically untreatable, are really on their own
right from the beginning. What else can they do?

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By gerard, July 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

What a headline:  “Patients Seek Greater Role in Mental Health Recovery”
  As if “doctors” can tell mental health from a hole in the ground—and know who has “lost it” and what “recovery” is, when they are really talking about “conformity.”
  As if “mental illness” is a “role” some people play and expect “doctors” (some of whom are even willing to supervise torture)  to play the role of curing them—or they want to “play more of a role” in their own “rehab.”
  As if it’s primarily a matter of who diagnoses
and then “cures” the diagnosis.
  As if anybody for one instant understands what “mental health” means in an age of certifiable universal craziness, where those who think they are “sane” are very apt to be just as “insane” as those who admit they are nutz.
  As if it’s all just a matter of tinkering, a little adjustment game where some decide what reality is, are “strong enough” to face it, and. for a price, will tighten up a few “loose screws” and show you how to “find” it when you “lose” it. 
  As if—... it’s all very simple.  Just shut up and do what the man tells you to do.  Don’t worry.  You’ll be fine. If not, we’ll “rendition” you and lock you up where you’ll be properly “certified” as a “threat to national security.”  The popular vocabulary tells you all you need to know. Caveat emptor.

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Psychobabbler's avatar

By Psychobabbler, July 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

After all this time you decided to listen to people explain themselves as if you had a magic wand to wave and you never knew why. What a great staring point to establish a useless industry that preys on peoples responding to issues that you have no interest to attend to as so far as it fulfills your educational potential.

You would have to be a complete asshole to be ‘sane’ in this society that promotes the acceptance of ‘mental illness’ as defined by wealth obsessed’ nonsensical dip shits.

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By JasonF, July 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Great idea, as far as it goes. However it may miss a key point barely ever mentioned with respect to mental illness - that in our hyper-individualized neoliberal culture mental illness is viewed only as an individual’s problem and not the responsibility of society. I mean responsibility in two senses: 1) late capitalism as possible CAUSE of mental illness and 2)society’s obligation to care for its sick.

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