Saturday, May 17, 2008

A note on mental health in the black community.

By now I am sure people have seen this young lady.

I happen to know her professionally.

The place I used to work at treated people like her and substance abusers who did not have health coverage.

When I saw the vid I knew right off the bat who she was and that she was off her medication.

Unlike the rest of the people who saw this and thought this was the funniest thing I was not amused.

I know what she is really like when she is on her meds and it is nothing like this, she is a very sweet girl.

I also did not react like many others who felt that the young girl should be buried under the jail, that wouldn't solve anything.

She will be back out into the community with none of her issues addressed to any one's satisfaction and sooner or later patient like these are going to place some one at physical harm, or worst become the victim or perpetrator of sexual abuse, spread of STI's such as HIV, or a fatality.

In the black community the response can be to brush it off, pass the individual off to the hospital, or ignore the problem.

The lack of community knowledge really can be the most dangerous thing about this, notice how one of the young men wanted to get up and hit her and had to be restrained.

The place I worked at is considered one of the bottom shelf of treatment for the those citizens with mental or substance abuse issues.

Its really nothing more than an away station, they come in long enough to get back on their medication or off the drugs and shipped out with the hope that they will do what they need to to to stay right, which usually does not happen, "frequent fliers" make up 95% of the patients.

The flaws in the system:

1- Medication side effects can be so severe that some pt would rather not take them, as opposed to being constantly constipated, diarrhea, extreme weight gain, altered level of conciseness, tachycardia, bradycardia, skin rashes loss of motor function and the list goes on.

2- The meds are expensive and despite programs to cover some of the cost the cost not covered can deter purchase.

3- Pts like these need constant supervision, and that is a lot of stress on family members who are than shackled to the client and have there own lives altered.

4- Abuse of the system runs rampant, there are half way houses that will take the funding provide for the client and not even provide half the services that they promised, there are relatives who keep these client just to get a check to supplement their own income and neglect the pt, there are substance abusers who know the "magic words" to say in order to get into the facility knowing they have no intention to kick the habit, but just want a place to stay.

5- The one facility I worked at kept every one on the same floor, men, women, mental health, and substance abuser all on the same floor, were every one is stepping on each others toes and no one has the tolerance for the other or maybe to much tolerance bordering on predatory.

6- Under staffed

7- The staff that you do have is under paid over worked under appreciated, leading to a high turn over and general malcontent.

8- Underfunded, the state government under Sonny Purdue has repeatedly kept the purse strings closed.

And yet despite it all the facility is there to try to keep incidents like these under check, I can not imagine what the street of Greater Atlanta would be like with out it.

Every walk of life, religion, race shows up there, right out prison or Buckhead, white, black, Asian, American, African you name it they have been in there.

I hope this episode by this young lady will lead her to get some of the help that she needs and more importantly have the power to be open up a dialog on the subject.