The following is a guest post from my mother. She recently retired from her job as a social worker, a role she has had in various forms going back to the Johnson administration. She’s a gun owner, but you won’t find her on the range often because she’s too busy with her grandchildren. She’s hardly a raging libertarian, but also saw the many weaknesses of government programs to address many problems. These are simply some of her quick thoughts after watching the news today and reflecting on her personal experiences with the mental health programs over the last few decades.
It is heartbreaking to see what has happened today, as well as what has happened in other similar incidents. In these situations, it has been established that the majority of the individuals involved have had major mental health issues. After having just retired from more than 40 years in social services, I have seen many, many changes in handling those who are mentally ill.
Back in the early 80′s, we started mainstreaming mentally ill folks back into society, even those who clearly were not capable of functioning without some sort of structure. I agree that we need to understand mental health issues and must learn to distinguish those from those who are treatable and are capable of following treatment from those who, without structured guidance and possible mandated medication and treatment, are not able to function in mainstream.
We closed many hospitals, which I agree many needed to be updated and made more humane, but by not improving those facilities, we turned many people out on the streets without any form of support. Those people were left to become homeless, unable to manage medication, unable to take care of their personal needs, etc., and many of those turned to crime not because they were a bad person. They had no conception of right or wrong, they weren’t on medication, and they often have no family to assist them. Or, perhaps they had family that cared or had family who become emotionally burned out and/or financially strapped and unable to function themselves. It is a sad state we are in and, while I don’t have answers, I do know we need to look at what needs to happen in our mental health programs.
It seems it’s easier for the government to give them a check, food stamps, than deal with real treatment programs. My sister currently works as a case manager for mental health and her caseload is off the charts with no way to require her clients to comply with treatment or take medication correctly. The result is that some end up in jail for some type of crime or homeless because they couldn’t function enough to properly take care of their lives.
My heart breaks for the families and children, I just pray that the wrong “cause” isn’t made the issue instead of looking at the “real” issues of what’s happening here.
18 Responses to “The Issue of Mental Health Treatment from a Social Worker”
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