Mental Illness FACTS-Right 2 Treatment –Change That Matters
Califorinia’s Medicaid population is denied a guarantee of medically necessary care for mental illness. On June 19th we will gather at State Capital to describe the personal or professional consequences of California’s official discrimination. California”s Mental Health system does not meet national quality standards of Safe, Effective, Efficient, Timely, Patient/Family Centered, Equitable care. In a maximum of 600 words/3 minutes, tell your story, your FACTS, of mental illness treatment discrimination. Respectfully, “Teach-Touch-Transform “ with your truth and use your story to shatter the system’s shameful and legal neglect. Without a Right 2 Treatment, mental Illness is life threatening whether it is stage 1, 2, 3 or 4.
There are many ways to tell a story. But all good stories have this in common: Something has to happen. The world has to change. Below is an example by Teresa Pasquini.
“I am the proud mother of a 31-year-old son with schizzoaffective disorder who has spent the majority of the past 15 years in California’s psychiatric facilities behind locked doors. My son has been hospitalized over 40 times. He has never received “whatever it takes” although he was surely a candidate for the often-touted Full Service Partnerships. His failed care is a case study of inhumanity and suffering. Yet California’s MHSA funds movies and parities instead of parity.
His first involuntary hold occurred at the age of 15. It was a suicide by cop type event. He was psychotic, high or drunk and was running from a sheriff deputy and when caught, he begged to be killed. We received a call that he was being taken to the psychiatric hospital in Walnut Creek, CA, which like many psychiatric hospitals, has since closed. Although I had experienced the mental health system, with my brother, many years before, nothing would prepare my husband or I, for what was to come into our lives.
The past 15 years have been a blur of suicide attempts, over 70 involuntary holds, revolving hospitalizations, and a permanent conservatorship which has lasted for the past 13 years. With a diagnosis at age 16, we began to navigate a maze of services in one of the most integrated healthcare systems in California. It was a nightmare. I had been a soccer mom, a room mom and a stay at home mom but I didn’t know how to be a mom to a child with a serious psychiatric illness.
There is absolutely no way to prepare for the chaos and continuous crisis that this medical illness brings into a family home. Some people fear those with mental illnesses but what they should fear is the California mental health system, with all of its inequities, complexity and discrimination, which prevents appropriate medical and recovery supports. It was the health system, not our son, who became the monster in our family.
I reflected on our family experience during a visit to our son while my husband and I drove a total of 5 hours round trip. Psychiatric patients are often not treated near their home, but in out of county placements. When we arrived, our son, who was 29 at the time, came running with such happiness at the sight of our car and stopped at a high wire fence, waving to us. It reminded me of when he was in kindergarten and he used to run to the schoolyard fence to greet me. The fence reminded my husband of a prison and it took him a while to get out of the car and head into the visit.
My husband still struggles with his inability to rescue his son from his symptoms and the system. They have stolen his son’s freedom, dignity, and often the will to live. How do we hold on to hope when our son continues to suffer by a broken, fragmented, under funded mental health system? I choose to fight for a Right 2 Treatment for all families like mine to end the fiscal and human waste of mental illness and to possibly save our souls.
Recovery has escaped my son and he has had little joy in his adult life. He sits today in the Napa County jail following an arrest at Napa State Hospital. He was placed there on a civil commitment but now faces criminal charges. He is awaiting an Incompetent to Stand Trial hearing in July. I contend that the California mental health system should be on trial for incompetence. “