See what people are saying about the New York Times Magazine's June 24 cover story about the emotional and legal hurdles to civil commitment.
Thank you for this article, thank you for sharing your family's story. My family is faced with a similar tragedy ....
While it seems like it is taking away someone's free will to initiate and enforce treatment involuntarily, the truth is that the illness took away that person's free will long before the system ever could.... I find it particularly frustrating that someone stricken with an acute traumatic brain injury (i.e. car accident) can be involuntarily treated through the injury, while someone afflicted with a more insidious brain disorder like schizophrenia is left to deteriorate while the illness is given free reign over the person's brain and life.... The shattered system of mental health care in this country is indeed due for its own treatment ASAP.
Here in California, we have one of the more "progressive" laws that allows patients to be hospitalized on the basis that they can't take care of themselves due to mental illness. Still, one can't medicate even a severely manic patient against his or her will without a court order. I have seen tens of thousands of dollars of waste -- and endangerment of patient's health -- due to this requirement. One patient, for example, who had a manic episode, hadn't eaten in days because she believed that she didn't need to eat, that she could inhale enough sustenance from the air to survive. Although her heart raced due to dehydration, we couldn't give her anything to help her until a court hearing several days later. Once we were able to give her medication, she responded beautifully, began to eat again, and eventually was discharged. But not before, due to more laws and regulations, our ability to medicate her lapsed once again, and she relapsed, and wouldn't eat again for several days. The lost time cost us at least a week more in the hospital, at a rate of $2,000 a night, with the bill footed by Medicare. The amount of damage inflicted on mental health patients by politicians with these kinds of "patient's rights" laws is not only wasteful and immoral, but a matter of life and death. What about a patient's right to mental health? To a properly functioning brain?
Felipe Jain, M.D.
I have schizo-affective disorder and am in favor of involuntary hospitalization and treatments. I wish someone had helped me sooner....
If someone can recover from the pit of fire and tragedy like I have with medication, think just how many people could be saved from jail, homelessness and despair just because someone cared enough to get them in the hospital and stabilized on meds. We need more mental hospitals and more treatment options for the mentally ill. We need better psychiatrists--there are so few good ones. We need policemen trained in recognizing mental illness and what to do about it. The community needs awareness and education. We need more lax involuntary commitment laws.
Mentally ill people don't think they are ill! We are dependant on your help, community, to get us back to normalcy...!
Thanks for listening.
Thank you so much for your article.
Jeneen, excellent article. I hope/pray your article calls more attention to the much needed changes in our mental health system. Our system is so very broken and senseless in many ways. We only offer emergency based care, hence, the revolving doors of our hospitals and jails that is all too familiar to many of us....
Our family has struggled with our mental health system for the last 5 years, and our 23-year-old who was once talented and intelligent is now so very very ill and now mandated to our state hospital for treatment to try to get him well enough to stand trial for a serious crime that he never could have comitted in his right mind. His life , ours and others have been forever changed. If we had assisted outpatient programs, this tragedy and so many others would likely not have happened. It sickens me. It is semseless.
PLEASE, EVERYONE, write your congressman and senators urging them for change. Nothing will happen without your voice.
To read all the comments, click here.