July 23, 2005

De-institutionalization has Failed, Jails the result

A good article in "The Australian" highlights a problem that is prevalent in most "western" countries that have followed the US lead in de-institutionalization.

Calls to get mentally ill out of jails
From: By Simon Kearney and Adam Cresswell
July 16, 2005

LEADING psychiatrists have admitted that a 20-year policy of treating mental patients in the community has failed.

The psychiatrists are demanding a radical review of mental healthcare, claiming prisons have replaced asylums as holding centres for the mentally ill.
Those calling for a new approach include many of the architects of the current policy of deinstutionalisation, which led to the closure of psychiatric wards and institutions around the country.

High on their list of priorities is the reopening of secure psychiatric wards and an increase in the number of medium and long-term beds for the mentally ill to take the pressure off prisons, which are ill-equipped to deal with the number of mentally ill inmates.

In the two decades since the influential Richmond Report recommended deinstutionalising mental healthcare, the number of patients in psychiatric institutions has more than halved from around 15,000 to 6000. The prison population more doubled between 1986 and 2001 to more than 24,000 and now includes a high proportion of mentally ill prisoners.

A recent study by Corrections Health Service found 74 per cent of prisoners in NSW suffered from a psychiatric disorder, with almost 10 per cent suffering symptoms of psychosis.

See Entire Story: Calls to get mentally ill out of jails


I am saddened by the fact that people who struggle with mental health issues are sent away and forgotten inside our "justice" system. My brother Dylan has been struggling with mental illness and lives alone. This does not work out because he does not take his medication and needs to be in a facility. He has the potential of being a functioning person if we could just get him in the right facility. He is on parole and his parole officer can't seem to help us put him in the right place. Nobody understands the urgency in this matter. I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to speed up the process and get my brother in the right facility before he does any more damage to himself. All the agencies and phone numbers referred to us so far have not worked. It definitely seems that this is not a priority matter from the various organizations that I have spoken with. What can be done to change this? Thankyou, Travis Moore

Posted by: Travis Moore at June 13, 2007 05:20 AM

A doctor declares their patient/prisoner sick. No lab test to confirm or deny diagnosis.
The patient/prisoner loses all his/her friends and status once the declaration is made.

From eating to sleeping all behaviour is done inside a hospital( which is in reality a jail). Normal life skills lost.

Psychiatric drugs/meds alter the patient/prisoners brain, so there is no telling where "illness" or drugs are making the patient ill/behave "badly". That the meds are addictive and physically harmfull is overlooked.

The patient/prisoner has been taught no coaping or life skills. Everything in the past had been done for them when institutionalized.

But a magic pill will fix them up right?
They magically will find a place to live.
They magically will know how to prepare food and eat a well balanced diet. Magically they will bath and dress "properly" as well.
Magically they will no longer have anger like normal human beings.
They magically will not turn to alcohol like half the population does to cap with life.
They magically will get a job from an employer who doesn't fear the mentally ill or possible lawsuits from employing a mentally ill person.

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