Victimization in the
Mental Health Care System
by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
Many of us have become victimized by our
mental health system in some manner. We either are unable to
get the quality of care we need, or the quantity. Many times
we are not treated with respect or dignity.
It is common for many of us to be given inappropriate
medications or inappropriate amounts of medications which
increase our symptomatic behavior and may put us at risk of
either self harm, harming others, etc., etc., only to be told
that we must wait for our next appointment, unless "we
are running in traffic."
We are also many times handled by many burned out mental
health workers who do not like their job, do not like being
around us, do not understand our issues, do not want to and
frankly do not care. Many of these mental health workers, even
if they are well meaning, may lack the education or the
experience they need to give us the treatment that we need to
get into or stay into recovery.
I am certainly not saying that there are not positive
experiences out there for us in treatment for our mental
health disorders. There are and there are plenty. However,
there are many unskilled, uncaring, abusive settings out there
with no budget to boot that many of us run in to and usually
during the time that we are least likely to be able to deal
with this kind of situation - when we are not treated
In fact, many of us experience post traumatic stress disorder
due to these kind of experiences with those so called
"mental health" settings.
My first point here is personally is that when I am not
medically treated well, I do one of two things. My self-esteem
is usually very poor at that time and I believe the non-verbal
cues that I must be at fault for whatever is happening around
me. These kinds of settings usually do not take responsibility
for liability reasons and they would have to admit they were
wrong. They toss the word "non-compliance' around a lot.
If you took your old medicine because you were not to be seen
for a week and a half and the crisis unit would not see you
unless you were "running in traffic" and you didn't
want the police at your house, then you were being
"non-compliant" by taking your old medication on
your own without permission.
For those of us with mental health disorders, we have been
made to feel powerless in this world as we desperately seek
help to live a better life. We need the support of one
Here is a small pearl I can give you that the psychologist
gave me during my internship. Something so simple. "Trust
your guts. If the situation doesn't feel right to you, it
isn't right." Learn to trust what your inner self says.
Sometimes these kinds of situations just makes you feel
absolutely crazy inside and that is why you can call them
"crazy making situations."
If you have Medicare and Medicaid as insurance, go to
medicare.gov and do a search for psychiatrists in your area
and you will find a list that takes Medicare. The Medicaid
will pick up the 20% co-pay. Even if you don't have Medicaid,
see if you can pay the co-pay. Find yourself a good Dr. Cancel
your cable modem and get back on your phone modem. Get
Callwave as an answering machine on the net for free and you
can hear people's voices as they call. Just call them back.
If you don't have prescription drug coverage,
you can get free
medications if you are low income from patient assistance
Cancel your cable on your TV. At least until
you can get your medicine reviewed and get yourself
straightened out. Don't color your hair this month. It can
wait. You'd be surprised at how much money you can find.
If you are not reading this in the USA, you are probably
having a VERY difficult time of it.
Mental health disorders are brain disorders, folks. There is
nothing to be ashamed of.. The public is so far behind on
Mental Health Matters for information
and articles. Get
help to find
a therapist or list
your practice; and Psych
Forums for message boards on a variety of MH topics.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All