Involuntary Help

As a Licensed Mental Health Professional, it is not easy to have the responsibility of involuntarily admitting a mentally ill person into a hospital.  It is basically taking the person’s right to refuse treatment away from them, and putting them under treatment without their consent.   Definitely an uncomfortable task.  These are people who may otherwise end up harming themselves or others if they don’t receive mental health treatment right away.  Because of their mental illness, the person is making irrational decisions about themselves, to the point of expressing suicidal thoughts.  But it is not an easy thing to do.

I sometimes wonder if we are doing the right thing by forcing people into institutions.  Sometimes I think if we actually have the right to dictate someone else’s level of care without their consent.  It’s like telling a child that we are going to take them to the dentist whether they want to go or not, because they have cavities and we don’t want their teeth to fall off.  The child may not care about their teeth, but we are caring for them.  But I am actually talking about adults here.  Adults who professionals have decided that they are “insane” by putting a label on them such as “Schizophrenic”, “Psychotic”, or “Delusional.” So we categorize them as people who cannot help themselves, so we are going to help them by locking them up on in a hospital.

We don’t always do this.  Most of the time, we refer them to outpatient services in the community.  Most of the times, we provide counseling, rehab services, and education.  But there are a few times when we have to get out of the comfort zone and force people into locked units until the professionals agree that the person is stable enough to go back in the community.

I don’t know for sure.  Maybe I am exaggerating by writing so much about something that may be obvious to everyone.  But I guess I am just thinking outside the box for a moment, and looking at the big picture.  These are human beings, just like you and me, who deserve a decent life.  But, for unknown reasons, they are forced to live a life of confusion, disorganization, fear, and disorientation.  I have done this kind of work for almost 10 years, and I am beginning to realize how inhumane involuntary admissions to hospitals appear sometimes.

What do you think?