Health­care sys­tem fails men­tally ill in many ways

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

Re­gard­ing the story “Robin Wil­liams’ death a wake-up call for men­tal health work­ers,” (ModernHealth­care.com, Aug. 12), the com­plex­ity of men­tal ill­ness is im­mensely more tax­ing on every­one in­volved than treat­ing any other type of ill­ness, in my opinion. I’ve been a nurse for 30 years and have seen all types of mix­tures of ill­nesses. Fam­ily and friends can be help­ful to the ther­a­pist and psy­chi­a­trist in de­ter­min­ing the fam­ily bur­den for care­givers deal­ing with the pa­tient. They also can give in­sight into spe­cific fam­ily mem­bers or en­tire fam­ily cul­tures that can be con­tribut­ing to the emo­tional suf­fer­ing of the pa­tient.

Pa­tients who are men­tally ill are vul­ner­a­ble in two ways: They can need help so des­per­ately, but the laws don’t pro­vide enough lee­way to help a pa­tient get to a place for clearer think­ing and phys­i­cal at­ten­tion. (Of­ten, these pa­tients are de­hy­drated, mal­nour­ished, and per­sonal hy­giene has been omit­ted from any reg­i­men, as has sleep and feel­ing safe.) Then, if they have self-med­i­cated, one is never sure as to what and how much or how long they’ve been on or off their med­i­ca­tions. In­tense in­volve­ment is nec­es­sary by the treat­ment team.

Lisa Nab­holz Con­way, Ark.

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