Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mental Health Treatment

The Clinton HQ hostage situation brings up again the lack of adequate mental health treatment in America:

ROCHESTER, N.H. - Leeland Eisenberg was already in trouble before he walked into one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign offices.

Three days earlier, his wife had filed for divorce; he was due to appear in court with her for a domestic violence hearing in about half an hour.

Then, the nicely dressed, gray-haired man peeled open his jacket to reveal what looked like dynamite strapped to his chest, authorities said, and things got much worse.

Police say Eisenberg went to the office Friday demanding to talk to Clinton about helping him get mental health care and ended up taking at least five people, including an infant, hostage. Night would fall before the last one walked free and the hostage-taker peacefully surrendered.

I guess he'll be getting treatment now, albeit within the criminal justice system.

As I posted in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, I'm a former mental health counselor. My degree is in community mental health treatment. I worked in the field for about 14 years, before burnout and frustration led me to leave the field. Our mental health system is virtually nonexistent for the people who need it most. If you're poor, the only way you will receive treatment is if you commit a crime and are court ordered into a system that is so overextended that it is unable to provide even minimal care. There is no preventative care unless you're well off enough to pay for it yourself, and the vast majority of people with mental illness aren't.

Another symptom of the sickness that has become the norm in our society.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am often saddened by the reality of how mean this country is. We can individually open our wallets in time of need for anyone.

But we are stingy with our tax dollars for our own wounded and ill people. I think there's an underlying sense that we are each on our own and when you become sick, it's because you deserve to be sick.