Social Justice: Mental Health by J.M.

Issues regarding mental health and treating those with mental health have been growing over the past few decades. Rates of people with mental illness have been rising for numerous reasons, from the way children are raised to PTSD from fighting in wars. According to many sources, at least 1/10 people suffer from depression alone. Even though mental illness has become such a big issue, treatment for those with mental illnesses has not come very far from the days of insane asylums.

In the book ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ the author, Ken Kesey, describes many examples of injustices in the mental health care system, partially from his experiences working in a mental hospital. Examples of this include nurses giving patients medicine and not telling them what it does, and restricting patients access to recreational activities based on their behavior. Although many people would like to believe that things like this don’t happen anymore, the current mental care system has not come nearly as far as they would like to think. Based on stories about mental hospitals I have heard from those who have visited them, they have hardly progressed since 1962. Modern day mental hospitals are made to appear nice and supportive to the friends and family who visit the patients by putting amenities right at the front, such as a treadmill, board games, and comfortable chairs. In truth, however, these ‘hospitals’ are more similar to jails. Patients are usually given some time outside each day, however that only occurs in a small, fenced off court yard, similar to what you would expect at a prison. The amenities presented at the entrance to the mental hospital are essentially props, the treadmill they put within eyesight of the elevator hasn’t worked in years, and the board games are missing most of the pieces because of ‘safety hazards’. Patients must wear a specific uniform, and are lucky if they can keep so much as a picture from visitors without it being confiscated. At night, the staff comes through patients rooms, removing anything that could possibly be imagined as dangerous, from towels to shoelaces to pencils. Even worse is the way people are sentenced to stay there, so much as a sad comment from a person with a mental illness can get them put under ‘72 hour watch’ a policy that forces them to stay in a mental hospital for three days, but is almost always extended to over a week, without sufficient explanation.

Our system for treating those with mental illnesses is in need of reform, to create an honest system that is more of a hospital than a jail.

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