Mental Health Crisis– This term refers to an individual with mental illness having an episode of feeling out of control. Or our mental health care crisis which is failing many mental health patients.
As most of you who follow my blog may know, mental health awareness is a goal and a passion of mine. Most of my blog is dedicated to mental health issues that I personally deal with or have first hand experience with.
I consider myself an advocate for mental health awareness and wish to use my blog to further that cause.
The Mental Health Crisis in America is a serious concern. This week an incident hit a little closer to home for me, which I will explain. But first let’s look at some statistics.
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Mental Health Crisis in America
Mental health services in the U.S. are insufficient despite more than half of Americans (56%) seeking helphttps://www.thenationalcouncil.org/press-releases/new-study-reveals-lack-of-access-as-root-cause-for-mental-health-crisis-in-america/
The same above-mentioned article went on to say that the demand for mental health services is stronger than ever, with nearly six in 10 (56%) Americans seeking or wanting to seek mental health services either for themselves or for a loved one. And that the age of Americans with mental health issues is younger than it has been in the past.
Cohen Veterans Network President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Anthony Hassan was quoted as saying; “If we want to save lives, save families and save futures we must re-imagine our behavioral health system and take concrete steps to improve consumers’ ability to find the care they need, when they need it, and on their terms.”
Mental Health Crisis in Texas
Estimated Prevalence of Severe Mental Illness in Texas (2017)
- Total adult population: 20.9 million
- Individuals with schizophrenia: ~ 230,000
- Individuals with severe bipolar disorder: ~ 461,000
- (SOURCE: NIMH and US BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, 2017)
Now I’d like to actually quote some Texas laws pertaining to mental health. I want to quote them here because I feel they are important when I start relating the incident of how tragedy struck close to home this past week. So please, bear with me here just a moment.
Mandatory Treatment Laws in Texas
The following information is taken in whole from https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/browse-by-state/texas
Like every state, Texas has civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who cannot seek care voluntarily. Texas’s laws allow for the use of court-ordered treatment in the community, known as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).
For “temporary” (90-day) inpatient commitment, a person must be mentally ill and EITHER:
- likely to cause serious harm to self or others; OR
- suffering ALL of the following:
- severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress;
- substantial deterioration of ability to function independently; AND
- (iii) inability to make rational and informed treatment decisions.
For “temporary” (90-day) outpatient commitment, a person must be ALL of the following:
- severely and persistently mentally ill;
- if untreated, destined to continue to suffer BOTH:
- severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress; AND
- deterioration of the ability to function independently, leading to an inability to live
- safely in the community;
- unable to voluntarily and effectively participate in outpatient treatment.
Tragedy Struck Close to Home
Now that I feel I’ve gotten all the statistics and actual technical information out of the way, I want to get to what urged me to write this specific post.
As I already said I am very passionate about mental health and spreading awareness, but once again, as a lot of my posts go, I want to relate a personal experience to you.
This one is not exactly personal, however very personal for someone that I know.
How I became aware of the situation
Last Friday afternoon as I was scrolling Facebook, a news alert from my local news station came up on my screen. As I normally do, I clicked on it to read the alert. It was a story of a local man being hit by an 18-wheeler.
Now, being the mental health awareness advocate I am, although many may find it odd, my first thoughts after I stopped to pray for the man and his family, was I hope it was mere accident. I prayed it was not due to mental health or suicide idealization.
Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition.
As I discovered more of the story
As the weekend went on, it was late Sunday evening when again I was scrolling my Facebook feed. Then, there it was, a friend of mine, someone I had gone to high school with posting about her 24 year old son.
I slowly read the post that she so painstakingly had typed through obvious tears, I read about how her precious son had suffered from bipolar schizophrenia for the past 4 years.
The post went on in detail of how on last Thursday he had gone to the local hospital’s emergency department begging for help because he felt out of control.
There the emergency room doctor gave him a sedative, calmed him down, and assured him they would transfer him somewhere that could help him.
To help you understand, this local hospital has a neighboring psychiatric facility basically across a couple of streets.
More to the Story
The next morning, which was then Friday, he is transferred to the psychiatric facility. The sedative has worn off, but the doctors are talking about releasing him. According to the posts I read, his mother does not know why they would release him.
However he became agitated and aggressive. He was begging for help and telling them if he was “released he would run in front of an 18-wheeler to kill himself.” His mother later discovered this from his medical records.
For whatever reason, the doctor did not admit him, rather he released him from treatment. The security and police took him outside the facility and released him to his own care.
This young man, begging for help at the only place he knew to go was now released on his own to deal with his out of control inner torment and thoughts.
He only wanted the mental torture to stop. He was desparate for the pain to stop, and as with all mental patients when we get to that point we cannot help ourselves, we need help from others.
So sadly he walked the few city blocks from the hospital to a main highway and succeeded in what he had told the doctor he would do. He stepped in front of that oncoming 18 wheeler and took his life in order to stop the mental torment.
Our mental health care system failed him!! That doctor failed him! Each nurse there that day failed him! Even the security guards and policemen FAILED him!! And I am OUTRAGED!!
This should not have happened!
This incident should not have happened! This mother should not have received this tragic call that no mother should have to get about her son!
At what point did that doctor ever feel that he was NOT a danger to himself or even others?
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Until next time,