#BAD2014 Blog Action Day 2014 – #Inequality In Mental Health

Blog badgeI admit I had not heard of Blog Action Day until yesterday.  I left a comment on fellow blogger Kitt O’Malley’s blog and she told me that it was worthy of a post for this year’s theme Inequality.  Kitt is an amazing mental health advocate, please go and check out her blog.  Kitt O’Malley – Living with Bipolar. Loved by God.

Inequality and Access to Mental Health Care

Sometimes you need help.  You may or may not want it.  You are a risk to yourself or others.  A stay in a psychiatric facility is needed.  The care you receive will vary drastically depending on your financial means.

This is my story…..a 30 something white woman, with not the best insurance, with no savings, and no other financial support….

I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility, I was suicidal. I had called a Suicide Help Line and was talked into coming in to a mental health facility to “talk”.  They wouldn’t let me leave.   I was taken from there to the psychiatric hospital in the back of a police car.  It was scary.  Really I wanted to be committed, I was afraid of what might happen, but officially it was involuntary. My insurance would only pay for inpatient treatment if it was listed as involuntary. However, once I got in, I wasn’t told my rights.

I wasn’t treated badly. I actually had a good stay for the most part. There were no windows my room.  The view from my window in the main room was through a thick metal screen, it was more like a prison. But it was a nice atmosphere for the most part, and it was clean and the people were good and they had really good food!!  It was surprising to me how much the patients were supportive of each other.  There were times when you would hear screaming and there were times when everyone was rushed into their rooms and closed in….but for the most part, it was a quiet and restful stay.  This hospital had separate wards depending on the seriousness of the illnesses.  This is not always the case.

My biggest problem was the psychiatrist they made me see. He made me very uncomfortable. I was a rape victim and he gave me the creeps. He insisted on being in the room alone with me. I complained and complained and I couldn’t get this resolved. He said I had Borderline Personality Disorder and my complaints were part of my disorder.  (I had already been diagnosed as being Bipolar.  This diagnosis was again confirmed by a different psychiatrist.)

My second problem was I was told I needed to stay beyond the time my insurance normally pays and that they had gotten approval from my insurance company for the extended stay.  They didn’t do that.  Since they didn’t get that, my insurance didn’t want to pay for the rest of my stay. Well I had no way to leave. They wouldn’t let me. Plus, I didn’t know they didn’t get approval for the rest of the stay.  I left there with a HUGE bill.

This stay ended up making me almost declare bankruptcy. did it help me mentally? Yes. Mainly because it got me in the system and I was able to continue treatment.

I did end up not having to pay for the psychiatrist outrageous bill he tried to saddle me with because of the complaints I had made against him and the many request to have him removed from my case. I also had most of the bill from the hospital dropped because they didn’t get it authorized, and since I was involuntarily committed I couldn’t be held legally obligated to the papers I signed when I was admitted. I wasn’t of “sound mind”.

However, I lost my job. I couldn’t pay my bills when I got out. I was single and alone. My roommate stole from me when I was in the hospital.  I had no one to help me.  If I hadn’t been so determined to get better, and stay the course, I would easily have stopped taking my medications….I had a hard time affording them. I would have stopped going to therapy and to a psych doc….again it was very had to pay for it.  However, I wanted to be more normal.  A lot of Bipolar people really miss the highs…I did.  I’m an artist, and I will say, I feel I creating has been a lot harder than it was before. But I will not jeopardize my health.

These are trials I had and I was really there because I wanted to be. I didn’t have an advocate. I wish I had. There were a lot of things going on with my case that no one told me about.
If I had not been so eager to want to get better, I don’t know if I could have done it.
The system is so very far from perfect!
I worked so hard. I still work hard at it.
many people who are involuntarily committed won’t be committed to working at it.

Many people who need help and want it won’t even be able to get in a hospital because they don’t have the funds.

No one should feel they have to declare bankruptcy because they need help with their mental health.  My credit was ruined for years after this hospital stay.  I was afraid to answer the phone because of bill collectors.  Yes, I was able to finally get the bills straight with the hospital, but it put me in such financial straits with everything else it followed me for years.   My employer didn’t hold my job for me.  So when I got out of the hospital, I had no job, and a whole lot of bills.  I was still in a very fragile state of mind.  This is not the ideal way to enter back in society after leaving a psychiatric facility.

Can you see the Inequality in the Mental Health Care system?

Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had the financial means to pay for a higher quality facility, and have an advocate help me?

Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had not had the financial means I had?  If I hadn’t had insurance?  I easily could have either have been ignored, or put in a state hospital.  I could have been put in a ward with people who were very dangerous.  I could have gotten lost in the system.  These kind of things happen every day.

What can we do to stop the Inequality in the Mental Health Care System?

The first thing we can do is talk about it.

Talk about it more….and more….perhaps the more we talk about it the more attention we call to it.

The more attention we call to it….the more noise we make about it…they will have to do something about it!

How? What?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how to fix it.  I wish I did.

But I do know this is an inequality that must end!  People cannot continue to suffer because they can’t afford mental health care.

 

To read more on Psychiatric Hospitalization please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness site.  NAMI

 

 

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13 thoughts on “#BAD2014 Blog Action Day 2014 – #Inequality In Mental Health

  1. We don’t get hospitalised in the UK for being suicidal. Only the most severe cases of mental health problems end up in hospital. I’m talking people on the verge of murder serious. I’ve attempted suicide 6 times in four years, not seen a psychiatrist at the hospital, a nurse does the assessment, and been sent home between 6-18 hrs after admittance. Basically when I’m medically discharged. Last time was two weeks ago and I even told them I would try again when I got home! I am grateful for a free health service here but they have no concern for mental health patients at all.

    • Claireodactly – My gosh! that is horrible! I can’t imagine that no one would care if you were a threat to yourself. That is just negligent. In my opinion if you did go home and commit suicide then they should be brought up on charges of second degree murder. They knew it was going to happen and did nothing to stop it!
      I’m so very sorry. I had no idea it was like that.
      The mentally ill are so often the people who are left out. They are left to find their own way. A blight on society.
      It is a tragedy of the greatest proportions!
      I’m so glad you haven’t succeeded in your attempts.
      I have attempted more than once…the time I was committed I actually caught myself and didn’t go through with the attempt.
      I hope you find your help, and the support you need.
      I am lucky I have someone now who is a great support. It has made all the difference, and I also have the ability to get better care.
      But it was my determination to get better.
      I no longer wanted to live the life I was living.
      I fought so hard to get better. I have had a number of times when my medications stopped working and I crashed. But I have never given up! I am worth the fight!
      You have to remember that you are worth the fight!
      Sometimes that is very hard…but keep fighting!
      Stay strong…we are warriors!

  2. Reblogged this on Kitt O'Malley and commented:
    Wendy of the blog Picnic with Ants (picnicwithants.com) describes her life as “a journey learning to live a happy and productive life, while living with Chronic Illnesses.” Today for the Blog Action Day theme of inequality, she wrote this incredibly powerful piece about her experience having been involuntarily hospitalized. She concludes by asking:
    “Can you see the Inequality in the Mental Health Care system?
    Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had the financial means to pay for a higher quality facility, and have an advocate help me?
    Can you see how different it would have been for me if I had not had the financial means I had? If I hadn’t had insurance? I easily could have either have been ignored, or put in a state hospital. I could have been put in a ward with people who were very dangerous. I could have gotten lost in the system. These kind of things happen every day.
    What can we do to stop the Inequality in the Mental Health Care System?
    The first thing we can do is talk about it.”

  3. Thank you for sharing Wendy! I have also been blogging a series of posts about my husband’s involuntary stay. I can’t even imagine what the outcome would have been if I had had to worry about the financial aspect too. You are a very strong person and I’m glad you were able to be an advocate for yourself and determined to get better no matter what. Many that are all alone can not do that and it’s not right that they should be treated any different. I look forward to your future posts!

    • mrsbipolar
      I don’t see your blog url listed….I’d like to read your series.
      I don’t write a lot being bipolar, I’ve been stable for quite a while.
      sometimes I do have little blips and I write about it. sometimes I write pieces like this one.
      It simply doesn’t affect my day to day life very much any more. When it does I write about it.
      I don’t shy away from it.
      I’m very open about it.
      and I may write more about it….I’ve noticed recently on some of the bipolar blogs I follow so many unhealthy habits that people are continuing after they are trying to get well. I think I need to talk a bit about that. As someone who has been there and come out the other side. (I guess you can tell I just brain stormed while I was writing this comment to you. lol) thank you for coming by! and for the nice comment. wendy

      • Come by and see us at thebipolarmaniac.com. I know where you are coming from, like you, my hubby is very stable. Sometimes I’m not sure people know what that looks like. I was going to post re just that soon. Would love to chat more with you.

  4. I know when one is in the midst of any form of mental illness… mine was depression, they feel so vulnerable…. and to have all the added things you had to deal with from the dr. who insisted on being alone and all the financial burdens… etc etc. you have come through it all and for that you should feel so good about being able to do so. You must look back wondering just how you did…. but you did!… Good for you…. Diane

    • Diane…
      Yes I look back and wonder how I did. I will say I never thought I’d live this long. 🙂
      I’m happier now than I have ever been, and more just…loving myself, than I ever have before. I think that is very important.
      The depression side of bipolar is the side that makes us go get help. So I can really relate to that.
      However, the manic side scares me too.
      Thank you for the compliment.
      We are all a work in progress.
      Cheers to you!
      wendy

  5. This is a very personal story about a very important issue of injustice in the system . As you so powerfully said, the difference is money! The rich can go to a private facility in a resort setting.

  6. Pingback: Top 10 Things NOT to Say (if you want to stay alive) | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  7. Pingback: My Story – Being Bipolar | Picnic with Ants

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