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We need to advocate for better mental health

Posted

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

I am glued to the TV tonight watching the coverage of horrific events in Newtown, CT. My heart breaks for all involved. The victims and their families, the survivors, the responding police/fire/ems/counselors/Danbury Hospital....

The whole thing is surreal yet I look at a small town like that and I understand how easily we all believe we are ready because we do emergency drills and becuse we also believe that it is far away and it wont ever happen where we live.

Newtown is in my home state and I have nieces and nephews in school in CT....my heart stopped when I saw the first report. It restated when I saw it was not where they live.

Then I started to think about what I would do if it happened in my school. I have the shakes just thinking about it.

Am I ready, really ready????? I dont know, I think I am....

What would i do? How would I react? Scares the ever living stuffing out of me that is for sure.

He was a known face to them, the son of one of their teachers. How many times has your kids or spouse or friends stopped by to see you at work?

We will never know as the (alleged) shooter is said to have killed himself after killing 20 kids and 7 other adults. He sounds like he had some mental health issues...how many times have we hears that in these cases?

How many times have we heard how our mental health system is broken, that we can name some kids in our school who we think may have the ability to do this???

I know I can.

Please , Please, let us hold these precious little children and the others in our hearts.

Let us not forget the impact on our 1st reponders. These are their friends, family and neighboors (small town of

If you have children, hug them extra tight tonight, tell them you love them.

Advocate for improved mental health care for all. We as a profession can do that collectively.

Edited by NutmeggeRN
Spelling

adnrnstudent, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Gotta be real careful naming kids. I'm a odd duck with my ADHD & personality quirks and would never hurt anyone but I fit the criteria. Think of all the odd doctors. Odd & brilliant go hand in hand for a lot of us and most of us odd ducks would never hurt anyone because we have a intact value system.

RN58186

Specializes in Nephrology. Has 28 years experience.

Yes, absolutely we need to advocate for better mental health care. In all countries.

But what really bugs me is whenever something like this happens the media announces "had mental health issues" or "had stopped his/her psychiatric medications". As someone who has a mental health diagnosis, and has endured the stigma attached to it, those kind of statements I find annoying at best and offensive at worst. The media would not announce that the person was diabetic who forgot their insulin, or a cancer patient on chemo. Yet, it is considered appropriate to advance the stigma of mental health patients as violent even though most of us are not. Mental health patients are fair game for having the details of their medical condition and compliance to treatment splashed over the airwaves in a way that would never happen to any other illness. I want to know what makes it acceptable to broadcast this kind of information about anyone, psychiatric patients or otherwise. Why are mental health patients any less deserving of privacy than other patients? :sour:

Okay, rant over.....

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

So true RN 58186 and there is no rant, you speak the the truth.

I meant no offense and apologize if I did. The media runs with any little bit of information as if it is their job to figure out why something so incomprensible happened. I have friends and many kids with a mental health diagnosis and try to be sensitive to it. They were wrong on many fronts yesterday in their quest to be first with breaking news....

the whole thing is just horrible in so many ways

wish_me_luck, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

rn58186, agree, agree, agree. I am tired of people blaming mental illness. There are so many factors that people are not considering--his parents divorced, which affected him (the news reporting that) and he had an altercation with people at that school. They even went further and mentioned Autism and personality disorder (not just mental illness). I am terrified of opinions from people who know nothing about Autism or PDs or mental illness.

This should be the best reason for breaking this stigma and being open and honest about mental illness. People are terrified of the stigma and won't get help. If they aren't getting help, then that's when these things are possible.

BostonTerrierLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

I too separate out mental illness and pure evil acts:(

Two totally different animals. It's hard to believe- but there are monsters among us- in sheep's clothing.

I too also call for more wholistic psychiatric, mental healthcare- but I do still separate the two.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Yes, absolutely we need to advocate for better mental health care. In all countries.

But what really bugs me is whenever something like this happens the media announces "had mental health issues" or "had stopped his/her psychiatric medications". As someone who has a mental health diagnosis, and has endured the stigma attached to it, those kind of statements I find annoying at best and offensive at worst. The media would not announce that the person was diabetic who forgot their insulin, or a cancer patient on chemo. Yet, it is considered appropriate to advance the stigma of mental health patients as violent even though most of us are not. Mental health patients are fair game for having the details of their medical condition and compliance to treatment splashed over the airwaves in a way that would never happen to any other illness. I want to know what makes it acceptable to broadcast this kind of information about anyone, psychiatric patients or otherwise. Why are mental health patients any less deserving of privacy than other patients? :sour:

Okay, rant over.....

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! :up:

I wonder sometimes if society at large has any clue at all how much those of us with MI dread hearing that a horrific crime such as this may have arisen from a psychiatric condition. Especially if it's the same one we---or someone we care about---suffer from. We fear being tarred with the same brush, even though we live our lives as decent human beings and would be the last folks one would suspect of harboring murderous thoughts. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to explain everything away by using the term "mental illness" when a time bomb goes off and tragedy occurs. Will we ever learn?

kat7464

Specializes in Hospice, home health, LTC. Has 5+ years experience.

Sure there are mental health issues, but don't forget that we have kicked God out of our schools, our country, our lives. How can we expect His protection when we have rejected Him on almost every level (unless it's convenient). I am personally sick and tired of feeling like my pity must be shifted from victims and families to these low-lifes who slaughter because they have problems. We all have problems!!

I was watching CNN when all this was happening and they had Dr. Phil on there. He was saying.. "If you know anybody who might seem to be mentally unstable, please call your local law enforcement, they can help you". This is your responsibility. I had to give a sarcastic little laugh. Society does very little to help with mental health issues. I have a family member who is very unstable. I could see him doing this in a second. Have we called the police with our evidence of his threats and crazy behavior.. yup. Did he get arrested.. yep. Did he get help? No, he got probation and is back home. I fear for my life, and the lives of my family and the best they can do is probation. It happens all too often. I agree that we need a better system in place. Im just waiting for the day, my "family member" snaps. So many lives ruined over the inability to help one individual.

wish_me_luck, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

tell, I have to laugh at that too. You can't call local law enforcement on mentally unstable people. The only way they can be detained for anything in this capacity is if they are a threat to themselves or others. They have to say something specific that would be of the affirmative (the way the laws are written) and to be quite frank, society should not be in a position to decide what is mentally unstable or not. There's definitely criteria the person has to meet.

It scares me that Dr. Phil is dispensing this advice.

I think we are going backwards in mental health care/issues/advocacy. Laws protect people with mental illness with ADA. But then you have state laws (that if they are stricter) can over ride federal law. That's why The Code of VA over rides HIPAA. I lost my privacy rights.

I am waiting for us to be chained to walls again or be killed in mass in a Holocaust. Yes, I truly do fear this. It's like a witch hunt anymore.:(

Edited by wish_me_luck

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

Obviously no one would be named, but more than once, when something has happened involving those I am familiar with, I make a note to myself-I knew it. I'm not talking about "odd duck" "quirky personality" types and maybe I was still too shaken to clearly articulate what I meant.

I am talking about when a child is an animal killer, when they act out and are abusive, when they self harm, when they set fires. when they have NO remorse..... I am talking about behavior that is out of the norm.

I am NOT talking about depression, anxiety and so many of the issues that folks deal with and manage everyday..

I see it every day...kids who cannot get the care they need due to a marginal area agency, due to lack of transportation to said care, due to kids living in squallor because of their parents inability to function, due to children with no coping skills having children of their own and perpetuating the cycle, due to the self medication of parents and kids with illicit drugs and alcohol.

That is where my frustration is.

wish_me_luck, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

nh, I hear what you are saying. But, I have BPD. The news is reporting Adam Lanza had a personality disorder. I know there's different types and you know that. But, lay people/society has never heard of a PD on the whole, so they don't realize there's different ones.

Society tends to group people together whether it's the same or not. That's why mental illness on the whole gets a bad rap. We should be fighting this stigma, so people are moring willing to get tx, provide services to get people to appts, etc.

jbudrick, MSN

Specializes in Certified Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurse. Has 18 years experience.

I think the appropriate criteria to identify people who are likely to commit this type of crime would be "out of touch with reality." Unfortunately, treatment for mental illness is not where it should be. Every patient should be screened for reality orientation whenever they are seen by a medical professional, and people who are close the individual should be able to request a screening. Most people with mental illness are alert, oriented and their illnesses are well-controlled. While some individual rights may be given up by a required screening, medical professionals will not be making unbased accusations. The young man involved was only 20 which puts him at the right age for his first pyschotic episode. As a nurse, I have encountered patients who are definitely "not in touch" with reality, but since they were not a danger to themselves or others, they were not hospitalized. Of course, we do have sociopaths who are just plain evil and would knowingly commit this type of crime. Because this young man obviously planned this incident, I cannot help but wonder if someone might have noticed his state of mind and, maybe, if someone had screened him for reality orientation, they would have discovered he was having paranoid delusions/hallucinations which could have prevented this tragedy. I imagine lots more information will be surfacing in the next few weeks about this young man.

My hope is people will realize the difference between mental illness and psychotic behavior and, maybe, a sociopath.

My prayers are with the families of Newtown.

SNB1014, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 8 years experience.

I want to know what makes it acceptable to broadcast this kind of information about anyone, psychiatric patients or otherwise. Why are mental health patients any less deserving of privacy than other patients? :sour:

Okay, rant over.....

most likely the diabetic who didn't take their insulin will not be a contributing factor to mass violence.

there ARE very real dangers, most often to the patient themselves, in not adhering to their prescribed psychiatric medication.

and i am someone who has a mental health diagnosis as well.

having a diagnosable mental illness does not in anyway put you on the fast track to being a danger to society. but it seems those who are a danger to society very frequently have mental illnesses.

there is a reason that anytime you begin working with a therapist they tell you "everything you say is confidential unless I feel you are an imminent danger to yourself or others."

it is a very sad fact.

Edited by SNB1014
forgot a word

Here's an idea: It seems like a lot of young people aren't getting the help they need when it

comes to their mental health. I'm not sure if that's because of

stigma, accessibility (financial reasons, transportation, convenient

time), or lack of knowledge/illness identification... but what if

mental health counseling was provided to every middle school and/or

high school student. What if every student could have a time slot at

least every month to talk to a mental health professional to learn

healthy coping skills and ways to improve or expand on strengths. It

could be a good way to help kids work through challenges and give them

beneficial skills to be used in adulthood. And for the kids who don't

have issues or don't want to discuss them, maybe they can use the time

as a study hall.

I know it would be a huge change for schools to go through, but it

seems like the current system has holes that kids are slipping

through. At the very least, maybe thorough mental health screenings

can be done along with school immunizations to help bring mental

health resources to the kids at risk, instead of waiting for kids to

seek out resources.

What do you guys think?

wish_me_luck, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

I agree, jb. Losing touch with reality is a sign and they tend to have a glazed over stare. I don't know how to describe it. That's in both suicidal people and homicidal people. Almost like they're not there or something. Almost emotionless.So, in general, emotion is good sign.

Mighty bear, I don't know if a counselor seeing every student would work. I think it should be taught in mass, like a class. Give them resource sheets and such and if they don't feel right, then have them contact someone.

The stigma needs to be broken. I am open about my mental illness and I do it to not only break the stigma, but to let others know they are not alone. Like if someone doesn't feel right and I am open that I have it, then hopefully, they will approach me and I can try and get them help or encourage them to get help. Like a support system or something, if they don't have other support.

If other parents are anything like my mom, I can see why they don't seek help. My mom would make comments degrading mentally ill people (i.e. crazy) and I remember when I was in college and I didn't feel right, my mom had made this comment that my dad's side of the family has mental illness and she hopes that neither one of us (my brother or I) ends up with mental illness (she was real snarky and hurtful the way she said it). It was almost like we were worthless if we did. Well, I did and I knew I needed to get treatment. I also had times where I would go for counseling/therapy and come home and my mom would make comments that it wasn't working and she pulled me outof it.

Do you all see the problems here??? Sometimes these kids do know something isn't right, but for whatever reasons, they can't get help.

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

Some of the reports (and there has been much misinformation from our over zealous media but that is a conversation for another day), is that he had issues with/at school and mom with drew him to homeschool him.

I know of many folks who do a great job of homeschooling, I also know that it is an escape for some to get away from those who could intervene.

The pundits say "tell someone when you think there is an issue" well sounds like thats what happened and he was pulled to be homeschooled and more isolated....

The was discussion on TV today about how to better ensure our school are safe...we do drills, we have a plan, we have video survillance, we have a lock and buzz in system. We have counselors and yet every year people want to cut the budget to bare bones,s o non academic positions are the first ones looked at.

I just dont know and my heart hurts so much.....

Aongroup1990, CNA

Has 1 years experience.

Obviously this boy wasn't thinking at the moment. I think there must be a chemical in his brain that set him way off to kill people for no reason. It's sad because my mother had panic/anxiety/bipolar disorder to the extreme and she has been getting help for 25 years or more and she still has never improved. she has gotten worse, so what I'm saying is that the health care system doesn't help the mentally ill. It's sad and something should be done about this because for him to go shooting because of a personality disorder makes no sense. That was cold hearted and I don't know why his mother had a gun in the house.. Why didnt he have been shoot his mother?? SOmething is fishy to me..

Come one America now you know if doctors gave perfect treatment to the mentally ill how will they survive and make money in this greedy world who cares nothing about other people and their safety.....