A recent article in The Chicago Tribune addressed the issue of how physicians treat their patients. The article cites several popular TV shows that have doctors who adopt a less-than-respectful approach to those in their care. It also raises the question-is TV influencing the real world ... or is the real world influencing TV? It's hard to know which is the case. But the bottom line is how patients should be treated by their physicians.
Television has, by and large, helped foster misconceptions about mental illness. People with depression and bipolar disorder face these misconceptions-that lead to stigma and discrimination-every day. And society's failure to recognize and understand mental illnesses as real, medical conditions only perpetuates the way people are treated.
I regularly hear from people with depression and bipolar illness who have complaints about how their providers treat them. Sometimes, it's about a provider's failure to appreciate the significance of our illnesses and how important it is that we have timely access to care. Other times, it's a lack of respect ... providers who don't see the circumstances of our daily lives as the serious and challenging situations they are. The topic of providers often comes up in DBSA support groups-who the good ones are and who fails to meet the needs of group members.
What we need is truly person-centered care. That's best defined as care from systems and providers that are respectful and responsive to our needs as patients ... and to our families if we've requested them to be active members in our support. If you think about it, this really is a very simple approach.
I'd be curious to hear about the experiences people have had with their providers ... both the positive and the negative interactions. We need to help educate providers-and society as a whole-about what it's like to live with a mental illness and how we're able to recover with the right support and in a dignified manner! I look forward to hearing from you!
Published On: November 17, 2008
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