Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Newport Police and Aaron Alexis- Lost Opportunity?

No one has yet asked Newport police why they did not take Aaron Alexis to the hospital yet thought the incident merited informing the Navy police regarding his behavior.
What is their policy in dealing with mental health issues?  How much training have they received?  Is there always a specially trained officer on duty in plain clothes with an unmarked vehicle ready to assist/advise with these individuals?  Well, I know the anwser unless things have changed recently- minimal training and no officer.  Lord knows what their policy is.

I have some firsthand experience with this and island wide the police react differently depending on the town/city.

Questions present themselves, what do you do with mental health referrals in the hospital (48 hrs. if they are deemed harmful to themselves or others).  How long does the hospital keep them WITH patient approval (3 days to 1-3 wks.,then shuffle you out with your meds & maybe a referral).  This, of course, is decided by insurers.  Yep, you're cured.  Go home or... somewhere (there must be a plan, though).  Good luck. 

There is NO SYSTEM.  It's a mess out there.  Talk to me.  I always thought there was a strong social net out there- silly, naive, stupid me. 

The best description of the problem is a PBS discussion with two psychiatrists.  I am referring you to a new book "American Psychosis" by E. Fuller Torey who connects the increasing numbers of the homeless and mass shooting with our non-system which was once funded but no longer is.  I have not yet read this book (but will) and he has 10 suggestions for actually, like, MAKING a system.  Former Army psychiatrist Dr. Ritchie added that compounding the problem is easy availability of guns.

This is how we deal with severe mental health in the U.S.- JAIL.  I refer you to the largest mental healthcare provider in Ill.- the Cook Co. Jail 
 ....Common diagnoses were depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Several said they had criminal records that included trespassing and drug and alcohol-related crimes. "It's not bad people trying to get good, it's sick people trying to get well," Kennedy said of mentally ill inmates.
"The number of people here talking about hearing voices and seeing things, it's hard for me to accept that we as a society can't make a better distinction between someone who made a decision that is reprehensible and you want to punish it versus someone who is ill and acts out that illness through symptoms we deem criminal behavior. Then we treat them in a prison as opposed to where they need to be treated: in a mental health clinic."
Kennedy said improving treatment -- and ultimately, perception -- of mentally ill Americans is a civil rights issue.
I've written and even spoken on this topic many times.  I was actually a NAMI speaker along with Rep. Kennedy a few years ago.  My son is afflicted with a brain disease- paranoid schizophrenia.  I've recently had dealings with the State of R.I. regarding their non-system and it ain't pretty.  Tomorrow is a good day though, as my son who was scheduled for home release in MARCH finally found a structured home with a bed in- SMITHFIELD.  Yes, so NOT even near his neighborhood.  And therein lies another story(ies). 
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