Schizophrenia in the News: July 2011

  • I'm writing this SharePost to generate a discussion on the endless hot topic of schizophrenia in the news.

     

    We'll return to the topic of subtypes of schizophrenia on the weekend and later this month we'll look at the available treatments for schizophrenia.

     

    I wrote a Question of the Month about a year ago about solutions to the mental health care crisis.  It seems no one on either side of the aisle has ventured to tackle this critical condition issue.

     

    Feel free to post a response to this SharePost because my aim is to spark a debate.

     

    In the Google Alerts for schizophrenia for today:

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    Staff and psychiatrists associated with Soteria House, Alaska tout it as a model of drug-free living for its residents who can choose whether or not they want to take meds.

    A woman who now lived on her own returned to Soteria House to fill out a volunteer application. A male ex-resident shot her four times. When the cops arrived, he asked, "Have I done something good for the community?"

    She died in the hospital.

    How did the guy get on the premises with a gun?

    News articles circa 2007 also touted the drug-free model that worked in Finland as an alternative to medication.

    It's a slippery slope you go down when you assert everybody should be drug-free. This might be possible for some people yet the reality is the majority of people who have schizophrenia will need to take some form of medication.

    A news article suggested 10 to 40 percent of the people with SZ can live without medication. That stills leave 60 to 90 percent who have no choice.

    We can't predict who will do well without drugs and who won't so is that a risk you really want to take when someone is in the throes of an acute psychotic episode?

    The far greater reality is that in America family members suffer in hell because their loved ones' lives are wrecked by untreated illness.

    The case was made that in Finland the health care system is a lot healthier than it is in the U.S. so patients have access to the best treatment, so that taking drugs becomes optional.

    Our mental health care is in a shambles. It's alleged that Andrew Goldstein sought help numerous times and was turned away before he got so sick he pushed Kendra Webdale in front of an oncoming subway train in New York City.

    The Soteria House murder reinforces the creed operating in America: "Kill first, then we'll medicate you."

    Is that a risk we should be taking?

    In the absence of best practices health care, I think not.

Published On: July 20, 2011