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Reflections on Mental Health treatment: Recommendations for reform

faceless woman with pill in teeth and nose piercing

There are general themes that circulate in the mental health world. Mainstream mental health seems to reflect the sentiment the patient comes to the mental health system broken. If this is the case, people need to rely on nurses and counselors for a sense of wholeness to heal and recover.

The work of doctors and social workers is invaluable. I question, however, that any healing or restoration of ‘the self’ is done without patient participation. What doctors do to help humanity is essential. However, proper communication must be emphasized by treatment teams between the patient and the provider. Good communication relies on humility, too; often, doctors have a sense of superiority, eliminating the essence of humanity in care.

Psychiatry should consider that having problems is ‘ok’. Understanding people do not need to be fixed by medical staff should be another consideration and a part of psychiatric training. Since human life and recovery are a puzzle, a sense of “complete” or “finished” is ongoing.

Since a sense of wholeness cannot be restored fully by a doctor or counselor, it is crucial to consider an inventory of factors before making a diagnosis or determination. Notably, the right balance of system intervention and self-determination is possible but takes time.

Faith in doctors and belief in one’s self is necessary. The ultimate balance relies on the individual.

Doctors continually prescribe different levels of restriction within a treatment, depending on the status of a patient and their behaviors/needs. In any case, maintaining humane treatment must be a necessity. Exclusion from a quality and unrestrictive treatment needs to hinge on more than perceived disobedience from a doctor. What is disobedience? Afterall?

Understand that there can be meaningful motives in rebellion. From my own experience as a hospital patient, doctors responding to noncompliance rather than reacting did a world of good.

I have overreacted in the past to psychiatric workers.

My overreactions were to behaviors I considered as threatening. The threatening behaviors were from staff and based on patient/doctor relations. Yet, rather than looking into these origins, most teams suppressed or punished me. Instead of simply explaining why treatment was set up and operated the way it was and how the clinical process works. If they had spent just a little bit of time explaining all of this to me on a more humane level, I might not have been labeled as ‘noncompliant’.

Noncompliance carries with it certain connotations, mostly pejorative. When a patient is ‘noncompliant’, it is essential to distinguish between the symptoms and allow for space and freedom for the person to express their needs.

Making this distinction can make the difference enough to create a good outcome and a thriving individual. Inserting this freedom can also allow for the pathway to more voluntary treatment and reinforce ‘adherence’ over forced ‘compliance’ in care.

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