Lisa Abramson says that even after all she’s been through — the helicopters circling her house, the snipers on the roof, and the car ride to jail — she still wants to have a second child.
That’s because right after her daughter was born in 2014 — before all that trouble began — everything felt amazing. Lisa was smitten, just like she’d imagined she would be. She’d look into her baby’s round, alert eyes and feel the adrenaline rush through her. She had so much energy. She was so excited.
“I actually was thinking like, ‘I don’t get why other moms say they’re so tired, or this is so hard. I got this,’ ” she says. more
In almost every state in the country, the supply of inpatient psychiatric care is insufficient to meet the demand. In a 2006 survey, 34 state mental health authorities reported a shortage of beds for acute psychiatric care. The shortages mean that patients who enter an emergency room with an acute psychiatric crisis may wait days or weeks for a bed, inmates who qualify for psychiatric care may wait in jail for several months before a bed becomes available, and patients who are admitted to a psychiatric hospital are often released too soon, in order to make room for other patients. In a 2014 survey, 19 state mental health directors said the judicial system had found them in contempt, or threatened to, for failure to admit jailed inmates to psychiatric hospitals in a timely manner
Today, there are fewer than 40,000 beds in state psychiatric hospitals in the U.S., down from a peak of more than 550,000 in 1955. Despite the shortages, the number of beds continues to decline—down 13 percent since 2010. As a result, thousands of persons with serious mental illness are living on the streets, or in jail, or with families who are ill-equipped to cope with the acute symptoms of mental illness. Why have the states not acted to address the issue? Why are we not providing adequate facilities for these desperately ill people? more
When Clay County officials started planning to replace its jail, the oldest in the state, they gathered around a table to start building a wish list for the new jail’s design.
“One of the first things we talked about, one of the big needs we felt, was having proper housing for those individuals in our custody that have mental health and behavioral issues,” recalls Julie Savat, the jail’s administrator.
Staffers visited psychiatric wards at local hospitals and used some of what they learned to tell architects what they wanted to see in a behavioral health jail unit. At the top of their list: A quiet area away from the rest of the jail population, individual cells and a shared space outside those individual cells. more
When he was police chief of Stanwood, Wash., population 7,000, Ty Trenary thought rural communities like his were immune from the opioid crisis.
Then, one day, a mother walked through his door and said, “Chief, you have a heroin problem in your community.”
“And I remember thinking, ‘Well that’s not possible,’ ” Trenary recalls. “This is Stanwood and heroin is in big cities with homeless populations. It’s not in rural America.”
Last year leaders declared the opioid epidemic a life-threatening emergency. The county is now responding to the drug crisis as if it were a natural disaster, the same way they’d mobilize to respond to a landslide or flu pandemic. more
Heather Locklear shared a message about recovery as she paid tribute to a friend who seemingly lost his battle with addiction.
“Addiction is ferocious and will try to take you down. Recovery is the best revenge,” the 56-year-old Melrose Place alum wrote on Wednesday, September 19, via Instagram. “Be kind to everyone you meet, your light just might change their path.”
She added: “Rest in Peace Beautiful Josh. You touched my [heart].” more
In the ’60s and ’70s, deinstitutionalization swept the US. Poorly run state mental hospitals were shut down and set to be replaced with less isolating, community-based programs. It was a promising and ambitious plan that never fully took off—the hospitals closed, the community programs fell by the wayside, and the mentally ill wound up somewhere else: in prisons and jails. But the correctional facilities that moonlighted as America’s mental health hospitals weren’t—and still aren’t—equipped with the staff or resources to help inmates manage their conditions effectively.
How do circumstances like waiting months to see a psychiatrist or not having access to medication impact the people who rely on this care to stay healthy? We asked six former inmates who were managing psychological conditions during their sentence what their experiences with prison mental health services were like. While some spoke about positive and attentive care, others weren’t so lucky. more
Everyone knows that mental hospitals are horror movie prisons for crazy people, with padded walls, flickering lights, and evil nurses wearing tiny hats. Well, everyone might want to get their head checked, because psychiatric hospitals are nowhere near as exciting as all that. Most look more like college dorms with extra locks on the doors. I should know: I’ve been in six psychiatric facilities in three states, from the fancy McLean Hospital (aka the Girl, Interrupted place) to crappier state-run facilities. I’ve been diagnosed and misdiagnosed with everything from major depressive disorder to borderline personality disorder to schizophrenia. But I’m better now, and I swear that all this shit is true. more
By some accounts, nearly half of America’s incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren’t getting the treatment they need.
Roth has visited jails in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta and a rural women’s prison in Oklahoma to assess the condition of mentally ill prisoners. She says correctional officers are on the “front lines” of mental health treatment — despite the fact that they lack clinical training.
“Most of [the correctional officers] will talk about how this is not what they signed up,” Roth says. “Most of them have not had much training in dealing with mental illness — or they’ve had none at all.” more