In the Hartford Courant, Chandra Bozelko states that she’s been involuntarily committed to hospitals for psychiatric treatment and has also served time in prison. People should realize, she writes, that most psychiatric hospitals are in many ways even less therapeutic than prisons.
“Critics of the hyper-incarceration happening in the United States want to shift the mentally ill population back to hospitals, places where they can at least receive treatment,” writes Bozelko. “But, based on my experiences, there is virtually no treatment going on inside psychiatric hospitals; they provide little more than medication, the same pills delivered by prison nurses to inmates.”
In hospital, Bozelko describes minimal meetings with psychiatrists, no individual psychotherapy, and spending days “wandering or watching TV.”
“I received the same sub-par mental health care at a prison but the atmosphere was unexpectedly more therapeutic behind bars than it was in a psych ward.” For example, Bozelko writes, “Unlike hospitals, prisons require their wards to work and contribute to the correctional facility’s daily upkeep. Inmates work in the kitchen preparing meals, cleaning, maintaining the grounds, shelving books in the library, unpacking commissary wares or sewing.”
Bozelko felt “useless” in the hospital, but the prison work made her feel that she had a “responsibility” and duty to the community. “You can be reliable, diligent and valuable to others even when you don’t feel that way, even when everyone says you are not.”
Hospital Or Jail — Connecticut Mental Illness Care Lacking (Hartford Courant, January 16, 2015)