July 11, 2005

Mother Desperate To Help Son

One Wellington mother was desperate to get help for her son who has symptoms of schizophrenia. In the past she even provoked her son to hit her so that she could get him the help he needs.

"Scarred by her experience, she is calling for changes to the Mental Health Act to enable struggling families to get help early, before their loved one becomes a threat to themselves or others. The mother, who would not be named, had been trying to get help for her adult son for two years before he was eventually committed to Wellington Hospital's Ward 27 in 2003.

Sending police to lock away her son had been traumatic, and though
mental health staff were doing a great job of caring for him, it should never have come to that, she said" (MacDonald, 2005).

The Mental Health Act only justifies compulsory treatment when the person is a "serious danger to themselves or others," or if they can not take care of themselves. This law is enforced so that individuals basic rights are protected. Although this seems fair, it can also put the families of the mentally ill at an extreme disadvantage. Many people with schizophrenia are unaware or in denial of their illness and getting them to volunteer for treatment can be difficult at times.

Unfortunately this law is not as consistently applied as it should be. Some families find it much easier than others to get their loved ones treatment, whereas others find it a battleground in which their loved one with schizophrenia ends up being the ones losing. For example the mother in this story spent two years of her life trying to get her son treatment, but was forced to go to extraordinary measures to ensure that he received the care he needed.

According to Mental Health Consumer's Union spokeswoman Marina Lathouraki there are two sides to this story. There are those who are severely disabled by their schizophrenia and yet still can not get treatment and then there are the people who "barely sneeze" and their families are able to put them into a treatment program. Forcing treatment on to those who do not want it is a delicate issue in itself, and there is not an entirely valid answer as to how to make sure that everyone's best interest is protected.

The source of this article is The Dominion Post from Wellington, New Zealand. It was written there by Nikki MacDonald.

To get more information on the Mental Health Act in New Zealand go to: http://tinyurl.com/7vao4


We need to find a group home or assisted living housing for my nephew(age20) diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Please help.
Thank you.

Posted by: Judy at January 6, 2006 12:35 PM

"...and then there are the people who 'barely sneeze' and their families are able to put them into a treatment program."

Sorry, but I don't believe this. For a start, it isn't possible for a family to put a member into a treatment program (if we are, indeed, talking about a compulsory program). Only a psychiatrist can do that, after a preliminary assessment that is made at the request of the family, whose application for an assessment MUST, under New Zealand law, be accompanied by a medical certificate from a doctor. This certificate states: "I consider there are reasonable grounds for believing the proposed patient may be mentally disordered..." and then leaves a space for "full particulars" to be given.

The phrase "barely sneeze" is clearly hyperbole, from someone who is, I suspect, ideologically opposed to any form of compulsion in psychiatric treatment. - nzsf.com

Posted by: Alan Ireland at July 22, 2006 12:34 AM

I am a mother of a 24 year old son he wasnt born with this desease. This happened 4 yrs ago he was beat in the head by 3 Oakland,Ca cops called the riders. One day he was on the ac transit and he didnt have enough money to put on the bus,the bus driver called the police and they came and dragged him off of the bus and all 3 beat him with billy clubs,he was only 18yrs old at the time. hes 24yrs old now .He was in a care home but they werent licensed to give out medication. He was off of his medicine for 5 months before antthing was done, he beat up the counsler and now hes at John George in San Leandro. They are going to put him were he can get his medicine everyday and help him with daily living. If anyone out there needs any information my email is cecilia1234@sbcglobal.net or you can call me anytime my name is Cecelia McClain 1030 Willow st Oakland,Ca 510 836-7497 I will be glad to help anyone in need of my help May God Bless all of the families

Posted by: Cecelia McClain at January 18, 2007 08:51 PM

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