Letter To The Editor: Deficiencies In Healthcare For The Mentally Ill

Posted

Have you seen this posting: "How to apologize to people at work after I upset them...I'm sorry that your terrible behavior caused me to act out of character. You should work on that."

It appears humorous, but sadly defines Illinois' low rating in national standards for mental health and developmental disability in healthcare. In the criticism and very real failings, it is too easy to ignore the sacrifices being made by those striving to improve our mental healthcare in Illinois and obtain the necessary funding to implement those changes. I am referring to those professionals who are certified and licensed by the State of Illinois to make diagnosis, plans of care, treatment plans and developmental training programs.

The neuro-psychiatrist who accepts the challenge to define a complicated diagnosis to not only treat the disease, but the patient suffering from it. The social worker and the case manager with the LCSW SWIV ED hard-earned education and licensed by the State of Illinois to establish treatment plans, long-term goals and developmental training programs for patients and clients.  We often fail to realize that the challenge is integrating the patent's medical history with clinical findings to develop the best treatment plan.

Illinois does have some of these professionals who deliver such care with honesty and empathy to return a happier, healthier patient or client to his or her family. There are credible professionals working for the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation, Public Health and Illinois Department of Human Services. The attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference in such professionals who practice in Illinois.

Don't overlook the direct care staff in a variety of healthcare settings. The direct care staff provides daily monitoring, supervision, feeding, toileting and personal care changes where needed. The direct care staff also provides transportation, documentation and program implementation under the direction of case managers.

During staff shortages, some of the direct care staff may work 16-hour shifts, a common scenario in larger institutions. Large or small, the direct care staff performs multiple tasks unseen by visitors or family. Often, without cause, these workers are often berated, degraded and publicly humiliated in front of their patients and clients by those who have no reality of the responsibility they carry in  the daily routine.

Yes, Illinois has some serious deficiencies in the area of healthcare for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, but we also have some professional and direct care staff that have chosen to stay in Illinois and work toward a higher standard. First Thessalonians 5:14 reads: "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men." 

This closing passage says a lot about the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled and those who care for them, doesn't it?

Linda Hagood, Taylorville

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