It does help to have early detection and prevention. Prevention is a strange word as most mental illness is not going to be prevented, but it can be maintained and sometimes controlled. I am glad this mother found her son, that he is currently on medicine and being seen by a mental health professional; but you can ask how long will he "agree" to take the medicine and see that professional? That is why I am not sure "early" prevention is the total answer. Continued maintenance for life is what will work. That I think is the hardest part of the mental ill process if you want to call it that. If you could chart one person's life of being bipolar, all the things they say, believe and experience are just like the next one. The bottom line I always say is that you go to bed with bipolar and you wake up in the morning with bipolar every day of your life. You have to "consciously maintain" this disorder, that is the real challenge.
Advocates rally for mental health treatment
Monday, April 20, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kim Pointer's 25-year-old son had been missing for about a month when she received a strange e-mail from him that included paranoid ramblings about the government and other organizations conspiring against him.
Pointer's son previously had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but now she feared his mental illness had progressed.
“It was a frightening to a degree, especially when I knew he was missing,” Pointer said. “But it was more heartbreaking than anything because ... I realized that my son had something terribly wrong with him.”
Pointer shared her story Monday with dozens of advocates for improving the mental health care delivery system in Oklahoma who gathered for Mental Health Day at the state Capitol.
Pointer said she eventually found her son and got him the treatment he needed, but not before she and her family had to wind their way through a complicated and expensive system of mental health treatment in Oklahoma.
With proper medication and health insurance through a new state program dubbed “Insure Oklahoma,” Pointer said her son is receiving the treatment and medication he needs and is employed as a valet for an Oklahoma City hospital.
But according to Terri White, the new director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, only 30 percent of the people in Oklahoma who suffer from mental illness receive the treatment they need. She said many of those people, who could be productive citizens with the help of early intervention and medication, end up instead in prisons and jails.
“If we don't have early intervention, there are serious consequences,” said White, who estimated 26 percent of Oklahomans suffer from some form of mental illness. “We do not put people in prison for having cancer. We should not put people in prison for diseases of the brain.”
Justin Jones, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, confirmed that an estimated 72 percent of the more than 25,000 offenders in prison in Oklahoma have a history of mental illness.
Over the last decade, he said, the use of psychotropic medication by inmates has grown more than 300 percent.
Jones said when the state closed several of its mental health facilities in the 1990s, many of those receiving treatment never were bridged into community-based mental health programs and instead ended up incarcerated.
“I could tell you about anecdotal cases all day,” Jones said.
Jones also urged lawmakers to consider lifting a ban on access to mental health court for offenders convicted of a violent crime. He said mentally ill offenders often have previous convictions for assault or other crimes that make them ineligible for mental health court, which is designed to route mentally ill defendants into treatment instead of prison.
“It really limits a lot of people from getting the services they need through mental health court,” Jones said.