Go Mad Then Get Madderer…

By Julie Bowen, Guest Writer

If you'd been thinking about visiting your doctor about that niggling low mood you've been suffering from the last few months, you might be as well staying home, logging online and reading the uncoveror.com with the curtains drawn instead. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the US had slipped back to the time of the Salem Witch Trials given the state of mental health treatment in the country at present. It seems that the country wide cuts are having an effect on many things, not least finding the best place to get treated. Read on to find out more…

Get down and do the time

Probably the best place to get any help right now is prison – we’re not even joking. That robbery you were planning? The kidnap you'd had in mind? There's never been a better time. Go round to Aunt Velma's and steal her priceless jewels. Once you're inside, that crippling feeling of depression can easily be treated alongside your kleptomania. If you’re someone who is diagnosed or living with OCD, dealing with the symptoms of depression on a daily basis or finding that anxiety is becoming an ongoing and debilitating battle, then you need to look no further than jail to provide mental health care. Chicago’s Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart has said that his staff estimate that of the nine thousand inmates there who have committed crimes, thirty to thirty five percent of them should not be there at all and should in fact be in a mental health hospital instead. “I don’t know how anybody who could say that someone suffering from a mental illness should be put in a tiny confined area that is populated by someone else with a mental illness and me medicated and treated as if you were a criminal…” Dart is quoted as saying. The cast of Friends managed it for all those years, but that’s by the by.

Mental health cuts are endemic

In the last four years, Illinois has become one of the states that has made the largest amount of cuts to its mental health services, meaning that this unusual step has been taken. Dart says that once the inmates are inside the prison walls the focus is made on getting them stable, before they are discharged. Once they are ready to be released they are let out with a plastic bag containing their medication, a napkin and a slice of birthday cake to take home. However, on a sombre note some inmates suffering from various mental health conditions are so distressed at having to leave and face the world again that they are committing crimes or injuring themselves in order that they can stay and gain access to further treatment.

That’s OK; we’ll stay at home and just get a prescription for anti-depressants

You’ve read the above and decided that a life of crime really isn’t the way to go to get help after all, so you’ve decided you’ll just pop along and see your Doctor, to have a little chat and get a prescription for something that will help lift you out of the black hole. Oh boy. Think again. One in five US citizens is currently prescribed some sort of anti-depressant medication to cope with the symptoms of varying degrees of different mental illnesses, from mild depression through to things like schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder. However, it now seems that many of these drugs may be little better than placebos or Reese’s Pieces. In some cases they can give the patients who are taking them intolerable side effects which make their health worse in the long run. The main types of medication on offer all basically do the same thing and there is simply not the variety of drugs to help treat people with specific mental illnesses. In the last fifty years, there has been little in the way of innovation for the drug treatment of people suffering mental health problems. Now it seems that many drug companies are far too afraid to try and develop new medications that could possibly help, as the effects of clinical trials might be too risky and prove too costly. That’s just great isn’t it? Keep taking the sugar pills and in the meantime, if you’re really struggling, you might be better off planning that heist after all…