Friday, December 7, 2012

Editor at Large: As I See It

By Marvin Spieler
Some random thoughts about our plight
Government Cuts
I bragged to a new counselor about the length of time I’ve been hospital-free. In a way I want him to know who I am in this area. He related without mentioning a name a consumer who has been hospital-free an extremely long period of time. However, this ended recently. Why? Through no fault of her own, Medicaid took her psychiatric medicine off the drug formulary, a list of approved drugs for the Medicaid program. She can no longer receive from her pharmacy the medicine that helped her stay hospital-free for so many years. The new medicine, I assume a generic or a much cheaper medicine, was prescribed. Unfortunately, this wasn’t helpful and caused a relapse. This was a totally unnecessary consequence!
Hospitalizations can be costly in many ways. First generation psychiatric medicines are in generic form making them much cheaper. The government’s theory is this: a hospitalization is cheaper than the higher monthly cost of the newer second generation of psychiatric medicines. However, from personal experience and that of my friends, the effect of the newer medicines are much better. You can stay out of psychiatric hospitals and have a higher quality of life. Besides, to have symptoms return by taking generics usually is detrimental in a number of ways. Your quality of life can hit an all-time low. Paranoia or depression or manic episodes can reappear. One’s functioning may stop altogether unfortunately.
A hospitalization may be recommended to readjust to a new combination of medicines. This would be an ego-deflator. Also the shock of a ward’s environment can be that of “a house of horrors.” We may have put the idea of a possible hospitalization behind us. Also, we may lose our self-confidence as well as a held job. Income will probably be lost. Every day enjoyable activities may stop as well. Our high quality of life can be lost unnecessarily.
We have regressed through no fault of our own. The government’s theory of saving money put us back in a hospital. This is a downer. Other means of saving money should be found.
The solution may be for legislators to spend a week or more on a psychiatric ward. If they personally knew what it was like on a ward their current policy would stop and a sane policy of help will occur.
Penny wise and pound foolish. However, the disruption to our lives supposedly to save money is extremely severe. I feel we are receiving cruel and unjust treatment as a result of government financial policies.
Training of Psychiatrists
Under Obamacare there is a provision for doctor training. I propose that doctors be offered scholarships to go into geriatric psychiatry to meet the need to alleviate the shortage that now exists. I propose a 10% refund in college loans per each year of service as a geriatric psychiatrist not to exceed five years of loan forgiveness.
Apartment Programs
More of an attempt should be made to join consumers together who will share an apartment. This can more easily be done if consumers know, trust and are friends from the provider’s residence program if they have one. Also if a bad match exists in a supportive or supported apartment, the consumers should not be forced to coexist. Literally putting consumers together with no consideration of individual lifestyles is definitely wrong. Consumers are human beings with feelings and emotions. Showing no regard for an individual’s needs in apartment programs is cruel and should be avoided.
Note: How would you improve the mental health system? Let me know. Write to me at or snail mail me at the address on page 2. Include a way to communicate with you if I think it is necessary to do so. All correspondence will be kept confidential.

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