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Meet Sam.

Sam has a problem which is making life very difficult.

Sam’s closet keeps coming open and stuff keeps falling out.

This is making things difficult for Sam because Sam doesn’t live alone and others often remark or complain or react badly over the stuff falling out and the way this is affecting Sam.

It has been suggested that perhaps there are monsters in the closet.

Some blame Sam and think it is just bad behavior.

Others don’t blame Sam directly but do treat Sam differently as a result of it.

Some are constantly going on about the stuff falling out.

Some don’t complain or remark at all but don’t really trust Sam with things.

Those who are closest to Sam know that Sam’s closet doesn’t work properly and realize that the closet can’t be repaired or replaced because it is inbuilt and too delicate.

One suggested approach is to put string round the door handles to stop the doors coming open and things falling out.

Another approach is to sort out and even remove some of the stuff in there.

But what if there really are monsters in the closet?

LOL Do you feel like you have hit the wrong button and landed on a Children’s story blog instead of a Mental Health blog?

Don’t worry you haven’t  I am simply trying to present mental illness in a different and unusual way.

I mean think about it for a moment if you will.

Sam could be male or female and any age and after all do any of us live alone really?  Fully alone?

Sam’s ‘closet’ doesn’t have to be a closet at all what if it was really Sam’s mind?  After all isn’t someone’s mind inbuilt and delicate – irreplaceable and often unrepairable?

And take a look at those reactions in the story.  Aren’t those very familiar reactions to mental illness?

others often remark or complain or react badly over the stuff falling out and the way this is affecting Sam.

“It has been suggested that perhaps there are monsters in the closet.”

“Some blame Sam and think it is just bad behavior.”

“Others don’t blame Sam directly but do treat Sam differently as a result of it.”

“Some are constantly going on about the stuff falling out.”

“Some don’t complain or remark at all but don’t really trust Sam with things.”

These are all familiar responses and reactions aren’t they?  But let’s also take at those suggest approaches to Sam’s difficulties…

“One suggested approach is to put string round the door handles to stop the doors coming open and things falling out.”

Ah yes the old ‘string around the door handles’ or more appropriately called the “fall-out management approach”.    This exists doesn’t it?  It has done and has been employed in respect of mental illness and poor mental health for years, sometimes correctly but sadly all too often incorrectly.

It comes in the form of medication.

Now don’t get me wrong here, when the problem really is the fact that the closet is broken and can’t be fixed or replaced sometimes putting string round the door handles is sometimes the only option, just as sometimes when it really is the brain or the mind that is broken and can’t be fixed or replaced medication is sometimes the only option.

BUT it is essential that we do take time to investigate if that is the problem and not something else.  To treat the illness and not just the symptoms if you will.

And more importantly we need to be sure that this approach is not taken just because it is the cheapest or less time-consuming option or worse still because of some bureaucrat or healthcare insurance provider somewhere who are as faceless as they are heartless and who won’t fund the right treatment.

Which leaves us with the other suggested approaches?

“Another approach is to sort out and even remove some of the stuff in there.” and “what if there really are monsters in the closet?”

In many respects or cases aren’t these often the best approaches?

Isn’t it true that often stress, trauma, and other things can cause the mind to stop functioning properly or to overflow, or which can present themselves in such a way, that they burst out, or cause difficulties or fall-out in our lives?  And that with the right kind of therapy and treatment these things can in time be sorted out and dealt with properly?

Likewise, isn’t it true that for many folk who suffer for poor mental health that poor mental health has resulted from situations and circumstances in life which can either themselves, or the memories of them, or the results of them, become those “monsters in our mental closet”?

BUT are these the only or even the biggest monsters in the closet or even the only kind of closet when it comes to Mental Health? I think not!

Over on the Mental Health Writer’s Guild blog we are discussing the proposed DSM-5 and the effects that will have on Mental Health care provision in America.

We have already heard how in that document there are indicators that in terms of such things as grief they are proposing a ‘medicalizing’ based ‘string around the door-handle’ or ‘fall-out management’ approach which would be extremely inappropriate.

And there appear to be many other major issues within it.

Let me be clear on this…

Poor Mental Health and Mental Illness are serious life debilitating issues which need to be addressed properly and compassionately.

And on this…

Those responsible for impacting and structuring our assessment of and our responses to it should do so according the needs presented, lessons already leaned, and the effectiveness and appropriateness of the treatment available. NOT the financial or the political agendas pushed forward by bureaucrats, healthcare insurance providers, or pharmaceutical companies.

But even clearer on this…

In the opinion of this writer when it comes to mental health the biggest monsters to be feared when it comes to mental health and mental illness are not within the mind of the sufferers but those who linger around the mental health field itself. Those bureaucrats, healthcare insurance providers, or pharmaceutical companies who push their political and financial agendas at the cost of the patient.

And clearest of all on this last point…

Unless some radical changes are put in place, the closet in which we are going to see the biggest and most harmful impact of these monsters will be the DSM-5. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders.

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