As a former mental health case manager at a mental health center, I was overwhelmed with the challenges that I faced. These are serious issues that are straining the system of mental health case managers, case workers, and of mental health institutions. I used myself in a Q and A session to address the most serious concerns with mental illness and the people who work with those who suffer from mental illness.
What are the struggles that patients face?
The biggest struggles that patients face are the stigmas and prejudices from friends and family over mental illness. It is not a character flaw or weakness but real, physio-chemical reasons that have nothing to do with the patient at all. Often the patient suffers from this and people look down upon them, but a simple chemical imbalance in the brain can cause these illnesses in anybody at all. They should never be thought of as being less of a person for these illnesses for which they are not responsible.
How/what is available to help them?
Case managers are a great help to these patients in seeking ways to treat their illness through proper, regular medications and treating them with the dignity and respect that they or any human being deserves. There are activities that interest them that are therapeutic in nature like some of their favorite hobbies that they find great satisfaction in.
What trends are you seeing in diagnosis and treatment?
I see trends that include the use of natural, balanced diets and reductions in fatty acids, carbohydrates, and simple sugars that allow the body to be more balanced and give the body’s natural chemicals a better ability to balance themselves.
Are there problems with the system? If so, what?
I see several problems. One of the most serious is underfunding from the states and federal government. I was a case manager in the state of Kansas which allows each manager to have up to 22 cases. That means in 40 hours each week I must work with 22 different clients to monitor each case, to conduct therapy, ensure proper medication is available and is being taken on a consistent basis. I also must do home visits and spend regular amounts of time with these clients for particular activities and trainings. It is strategically impossible to serve that many clients for one person alone.
What should this country be doing to better help those afflicted with mental health issues?
They should have the support of the states financially, and of the local area agencies that can work together cooperatively instead of not knowing what one agency is doing in comparison with another. There is too much duplication of services and a lack of consolidation and communications among doctors, case workers, and state, local, and federal agencies. Severe underfunding is detrimental to these patients and a lack of sufficient case workers and managers exacerbates the problems.
What is missed?
Those who have no medical insurance, the homeless, those in county, city, and state jails and in federal penitentiaries and finally, inexperienced or uneducated physicians to diagnose mental illnesses. No insurance means no medicines are available to treat the patients.
What gets shoved under the rug?
Many undiagnosed patients, those who are embarrassed to be screened for mental illness, and families stigma’s or embarrassments in having family members or themselves undergo diagnosis or treatment. Many clients are under-served due to the heavy case loads and do not receive sufficient help from case workers or case managers. I had 22 at one time and I was not supposed to go over 40 hours in helping this many clients. It is an impossible situation.