The Boston Globe recently published an atrocious opinion piece, “Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker.” Though framed as an attempt to shed light on a need for better mental health laws, the piece insults those of us of who have been labeled with mental health diagnoses.
A new study finds that clinicians’ disregard for mental health patients’ insight into their own condition may be detrimental to treatment.
I believe now that fifteen years is more than a fair try. Fifteen years of getting treatment without returning to function is actually insanity. I should have given up after year two. Instead of trusting my intuition and insight, I pushed it down and down... until it finally fought its way back to the surface.
“Mental health” — a misnomer? If you don’t subscribe to the notion of “mental illness,” why “mental health”? Why not the straightforward acceptance that individuals will act in a manner peculiar to each? In short, why not an existential or phenomenological understanding of human behavior as rooted in an individual’s idiosyncrasies and life experiences rather than in her/his brain chemistry?
In the last couple of weeks, I've read two articles in which the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is described as being the “largest organization representing people living with serious mental illness.” Putting aside (for the moment) my issues with the use of blanket ‘mental illness’ terminology; since exactly when did they become a group that represents people who have been so labeled in any genuine sort of way? Until our voices are seen as having equal value and are given equal space, those that do not understand and lack insight into our experiences (whether they possess good intent or not) will continue to be the ones to define our past, present and future in the public eye.
This article is about coercion in its various forms – that which is direct, unequivocal, almost thuggish, and that which is more subtle, usually masked as well-meaning, referred to by David Oaks as “velvet gloved.” The Tolstoy quote above, which was sent to me by a friend and colleague, Diana Gonzalez, aptly sums this up. This article is also about the upcoming struggle over New York’s involuntary outpatient commitment law, Kendra’s Law, and which of the principal stakeholders of New York’s public mental health system -- professionals, providers, family members, bureaucrats and politicians, peer/survivors and their advocates – will line up for, and which against.