As a paranoid schizophrenic who was once considered to be a danger to himself (due to my suicide attempts as a teenager) and seriously mentally ill, I was on Assisted Outpatient Treatment and forced to take Geodon and Zoloft. So, this is the perspective I am coming from.
When I was first hospitalized as a teenager, it was exactly what I needed. It probably saved my life at the time. So, I am not against it when it is truly necessary. I will say this, the quality of care varies dramatically from hospital to hospital, and maybe this was just my experience, but the quality of both the staff and the facility at the psychiatric hospital ward for adolescents was so much higher and better than the one for adults (I was later hospitalized a second time as an adult). Part of it could have to do with the clientele at each ward. The one for adults had some people in there that were so far gone it was obvious that they were never coming back from it, and it was quite simply depressing to see them. And some of them in there were downright scary and dangerous. They need to evaluate each new inmate and determine which ones are truly dangerous and keep them away from the rest of us. They shouldn’t be in the same wing of the hospital with the rest of us. So what I am saying is that there is room for improvement in terms of both staff and facilities. They should spend the money to improve both. If someone is truly a danger to themselves or others, they should have a high quality place to go, not a nightmarish place to go.
Also, the use of 4 point restraints on a non-violent patient is more traumatizing than helpful. I was not put in restraints when I was teenager in the adolescent ward, but when I was in the adult ward my first 6 hours were spent in restraints. And I’ve never been violent against anyone. I was a danger to myself, but not to anyone else and yet I was treated that way. So, to sum this point up, they need to look at how they treat adolescents and try to figure out why they treat adult inmates so much worse. There must be some way to fix this problem.
My next point has to deal with how they force someone to take drugs after they leave the hospital. This is my opinion, if a person is mentally well enough to be released from the hospital, then that’s it. They shouldn’t be able to force me to keep taking the drugs if I make an informed decision that I don’t like the side effects and would rather take my chances with the mental illness. It would be one thing if these drugs had minor side effects, but no, these things have major side effects which I’ve already discussed in my previous posts, and won’t bother going into here. My point is that if I am well enough to leave the hospital, then I am well enough to make my own decisions about the meds. If I am that sick where I absolutely must take the meds because of my suicide risk, then keep me in the hospital. But they have a one size fits all approach to it, and even though I am a high functioning schizophrenic (I currently have a part-time job and I am even back to dating again), they wanted to force me to take the meds. I feel that it should be my choice.
I also see it as a civil rights issue. The “court” process I went through to get on the involuntary forced drugging was a joke. I had a public defender who met with me and spoke to me maybe 3 minutes at best, and when it came time for him to speak on my behalf he had virtually nothing to say, just sort of went through the motions like he knew the judge was going to rubber stamp whatever the psychiatrist wanted for me. So try to look at it from my perspective, my Constitutional rights were swept away from me because I supposedly didn’t know what was good for me or what was in my own best interest, and everything came down to what one person had to say-- the very subjective viewpoint of the psychiatrist. And I sat there is dismay as the psychiatrist read aloud all the very private things I had said to him in confidence. My words got turned around and used against me. It taught me what NOT to say to a psychiatrist from then on.
The only way I got off forced drugging was when my parents saw what the drugs were doing to me and then hired a private attorney to represent me at the next hearing.
They are casting a wide net with outpatient forced drugging and sometimes they are catching people like me-- high functioning schizophrenics-- and there needs to be some way to address this issue. For one thing, there should not be a separate mental health court with its own set of rules. They should have to treat me like a criminal defendant with all the same rules and all the same Constitutional rights and defenses. I should be able to request and get a jury trial, and since my very freedom is at stake, they should have to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt” to the minds of the jurors.
I’ve learned how to avoid it since then, just be very careful what you say, because it can and will be used against you. I didn’t realize that at first.
This video discusses some of the issues from my perspective…