July 10, 2022
Dallas County’s average wait time for a state psychiatric hospital bed is longer than any other urban county in Texas, with some waiting more than 800 days for hospital admittance, according to state data.
Dallas Morning News July 10, 2022
“They may or may not have gotten case management or medication they need.” he continued.
The mentally ill are People. Have we forgotten? Are they forgotten?
THE COUNTY BLAMES THE STATE FOR THE DELAY IN GETTING MENTALLY DISTRESSED DEFENDANTS INTO STATE HOSPITAL BEDS FOR TREATMENT. Such defendants are required to receive treatment, usually in state care, before they can be declared mentally competent by a judge to then stand trial.
All the Money in the World can’t fix the mental health problem in Dallas….apparently.
Below is an excerpt from The Treatment Advocacy Center – Emptying the New Asylums. https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/emptying-new-asylums-exec-summary.pdf
In 2016, nearly 400,000 inmates in US jails and prisons were estimated to have a mental health condition. Of those inmates, an estimated 90,000 were defendants who had been arrested and jailed but had not come to trial because they were too disordered to understand the charges on which they were detained. All but three states authorize evaluating the mental competency of such offenders within the jails or in the community, and some states authorize treatment to restore competency outside a hospital.
Yet, America’s state hospitals remain the default option for providing pretrial mental health services to criminal defendants.
There is no fast or easy fix for the mental health system failures that have taken half a century to develop. In an ideal world, individuals with acute or chronic psychiatric distress should not have to worry about wait times in jail for mental health beds because they would receive timely and effective treatment when they needed it and jail diversion when their symptoms led to criminal justice involvement. Under current less-than-ideal circumstances, reducing
inmate bed waits and ED boarding will require implementing a combination of strategies that reduce forensic bed demand, increase bed supplies or both.
Computer modeling offers policymakers and mental health officials a mathematical tool for developing evidence-based policy and practice to break the logjam of inmates with mental illness who are unable to come to trial because they are too sick. Although it would not address the hospitalization needs of the other populations, this step alone could moderate the nation’s bed shortage, reduce mass incarceration of people with mental illness and make existing beds available to more patients.
That would be a start.
Just to type those two words, “Electroshock Therapy” makes my heart beat faster and causes my anxiety to rise. To remember that my mother had electroshock therapy in the 50s and 60s both satisfies me and frightens me.
If you have found your way to my blog on my mother’s schizophrenia, please do not be alarmed. Electroshock therapy is not always a bad thing. It’s administered very differently than it was during my mother’s lifetime.
There is much talk about how bad the mental hospitals were in the 50s an 60s. Equally horrifying to some is the idea of electroshock therapy. I can only tell you as an eyewitness to my mother’s condition, she came out of the hospital a more sane person than when she went in. She was not a zombie. We could actually talk to each other after her treatment. I did not see the mummified person that is depicted in the movies.
Thorazine is another word that might scare people. I can only, once again, tell you from my eye witness account of my mother’s emotional state when she was off the thorazine, things were not pretty, which is putting it mildly. Most of us who were around my mother could tell when she was off her medication. The paranoia haunted her. The cries in the night, the “dialogue” with people through the printed word of the newspaper were horrid. Horrid.
Imagine your worst frightful memory and multiply it by 10,000.
When you see the deranged man in the street that is alone and cold, remember that his brain may be experiencing delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. Simply put, we give people a coat, which is admirable, but what they REALLY need is their medication. Society presumes to know what they need when they are not even aware of their illness. We try to tell them about religion, which is not a bad thing, but what they often need is a warm bed and family who is estranged from them because they will not accept treatment. Texas is toward the bottom of all the states in our country in how it treats the mentally ill. Jails and prisons are becoming the new asylum.
The link below gives the data.
Long before I knew that anosognosia was a word, I knew it existed. Even after multiple hospital stays and numerous attempted suicides, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia, my mother NEVER admitted she had any mental health condition. Finally, there is a word for it, “Anosognosia”. Frankly, I have trouble pronouncing the word, but it’s good to know it exists. Imagine how hard it is to get help for a loved one when you call to make an appointment at your local MHMR and hear the words, “They must call.” WHAT?!!
How and why would my mentally ill mother make a phone call for something she never acknowledged?! You think it might be difficult to get people help?!!
Many decades ago, I was part of a carpool that left San Marcos, Texas and arrived in Austin for jobs we had with the State of Texas. We were not a talkative group, and I was new to the area.
I sat next to a gentleman who helped change my family’s life. He happened to be a member of the Scheib family, which initially did not mean a great deal to me. I must have brought up the need for mental health services, and he told me about the Scheib Center in San Marcos. It was a godsend.
I’m not sure if my father thought my mother’s mental illness would magically go away when we moved near her parents, or if he just felt like he needed to focus on food and shelter for us. It was clear to me that after decades of dealing with her schizophrenia, which included delusions, hallucinations, attempted suicides, multiple traumatic events, multiple stays in Big Springs State Hospital, my mother’s schizophrenia had to be dealt with.
My father retired from teaching in El Paso in 1979. What are the odds that I would end up in a carpool with a member of the Scheib family? I knew very few people in the area. All my friends were back in El Paso where I grew up.
“The Scheib Center was started as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation in 1971 with money bequeathed by Dr. and Mrs. Scheib for the purpose of providing services to the developmentally disabled and emotionally disturbed individuals in the San Marcos/Hays County area. The service programs were in partnership with the Texas Department of MHMR. The Scheib Center provided the buildings and the Texas Department of MHMR provided the money and staff.”
I learned quickly that Scheib Center (https://www.scheibcenter.org) offered several services to not only their clients or patients but also to their family members. Once my father heard it from me, he quickly went into action. My mother’s medications were lined up. We had a social worker. I still remember her first name. She spent time talking with me over the phone, and helped navigate my family through very difficult waters.
It is the first and only place where I talked with my mother’s psychiatrist. “Is it nature or nurture?” I asked him. He laughed a bit and said, “if we knew that we could be of much more help to people. It says in your mother’s notes that without medication, she would need…..”
And with that I close. It was clear to everyone in our family that Mother had to have her medication. Without it, her life would spin totally out of control. In turn, it would affect her entire family.
While the holidays are filled with warm fuzzies for many folks, those who suffer from mental illness are sometimes overwhelmed with it all. If you know someone in crisis, please reach out to your community. If there is not a Scheib type center, maybe you could help start one.
Thank you, Katy. Thank you, Buck. Thank you Dr. ___ but most of all, thank you Scheib Center for being there for the community. We need more places like yours.
As you pray for the flood victims, please say a special prayer for the mentally ill. I suspect there are some that have lost their medication and will have difficulty getting back on it. This can be a game changer for them and their loved ones. It can also be a game changer in the shelters if they have numerous mentally ill patients in desperate need of seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety, depression, hallucinations, trauma…. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in our country. I just hope some of them will be available at the shelters to write prescriptions that have been lost in the flood. If not, the situation will become worse. My prayer and hope is that the government officials are considering this piece of the puzzle as they try to put communities and people back together again.
It is not a topic that you’ll see on the news, yet it is the first thing I think of when I hear about the flood that has taken so many things from people.
It won’t be pretty if it is not addressed. Mental illness is not a respecter of persons. It can affect the rich and the poor, your neighbor and even your family.