Sunday, March 2, 2014

MJS Fails In Mental Health Report

As is their wont, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel loves to run stories in favor of whatever the agenda du jour of the plutocracy and oligarchy.

One of their ongoing stories is a series of stories by Meg Kissinger regarding the mental health system in Milwaukee.  I don't know of anyone at all who is saying the current system is satisfactory and that changes aren't needed.  But what shape that change should be in is a whole other discussion.

In a story that appeared today, Kissinger followed up with a young man that she had written about before.  In her previous story, she wrote about how difficult it was for her mother to find treatment for her son and the long series of failed placement in community settings, going as far as California in her efforts.

In the current story, she writes about how he is in his own apartment, unsupervised and barely supported. She complains in her story that Milwaukee County has invested their money into needed inpatient services instead of community services.  (This, by the way, is a faulty line of reasoning, since it's been proven that much more money is needed in both types of services.  It's not an either/or need.)

But what made me do a spit take was this (emphasis mine):
Rob sent an email a few weeks ago asking if the newspaper could run a follow-up story on him. He said he'd like to connect with old friends, go back to college, get a job.

He asked to go to lunch at Finn McGuire's, a pub on S. 108th St. in Hales Corners.

It's the kind of place a guy would come with his friends after a summer softball game or to watch the Badgers on TV.

Rob sat at the table, bobbing his head, waiting for his beer and the basket of french fries he'd ordered, even though his stomach had been bothering him all morning.

It was too cold to go outside to smoke, but he was too antsy to sit and make small talk.

His lip started to quiver. His eyes darted back and forth.
The man is schizoaffective and presumably on some strong psychotropic medications. I can't imagine any way that having a beer or any other alcoholic drink would be a good thing for him or his treatment.  Most psychotropic medications warn people not to drink while on the medicine because of the problems that can occur.

Granted, the young man has the right to ignore medical advice and drink if he wants to, but then don't blame the system for the choices he has made.

It should also be pointed out that this is what does happen when people with mental health concerns are put into the community without proper supports, which is exactly what Chris Abele, the ALEC-controlled state legislature and the corporate media is advocating for.


  1. I agree with you that community based care is not the answer. Many people suffering from mental illness need high quality in-patient care, not group homes -- and certainly not living alone in an apartment. The question often asked when determining whether someone should be committed is: "Is he or she a danger to themselves?" (i.e., are they likely to commit suicide?) If the answer is "No", they're returned to the "community", where all too often they die a slow, lonely death over the course of years as they unintentionally commit suicide by self-neglect.

  2. Community based care in a recovery-oriented setting with functional independence is optimal. Individual people with mental illness need varying levels and amounts of support/s due to their diagnoses, symptoms, coping methods, physical health, supports, and expressed needs and choices. People with mental illness have needs that fluctuate with symptoms, so the community based plan must have some flexibility for additional supports and a crisis plan.
    Milwaukee Co. needs to assess and develop individual transition plans for every person abusively warehoused in the horrific mental health complex. By law, people with mental illness need be placed in the "least-restrictive" option. However, this may begin w/ placement in a group home (with a community support program) or a supported living apartment (w/ a CSP team). It may transition into (or start at) an apartment or living with a family member with community supported care and additional peer support. Some will need to be transferred to a state hospital or a psychiatric nursing facility at this time.
    Milwaukee Co. must truly develop the recovery paradigm with the staff, population, and mental health services department. It is very important these people believe their situation can change. We strive for a person-centered, community-integrated, choice-filled life. We want to offer hope.

    1. Yet staff has been purposely left out of any planing. Furthermore, there are insufficient resources available in the community that can provide the safety needed for the patient and the community for the cost that the county is willing to pay.

    2. Furthermore, it doesn't take into account the simple fact that there are some people who, sadly, cannot make it in a community setting and will end up in a state hospital, prison, homeless and/or the morgue.