“He conducts these tours – serious women in blazer jackets, nodding to him as he points out how much things have improved over the years.” – Bromden on Public Relations
There are a few times in which someone in the story talks about the improvements of the hospital, about how much better it is compared to years past. That has me wondering what people will say about our current mental hospitals in a few years. They will most likely cut them down in the same way.
In my first post on this blog I commented on my personal experiences with mental hospitals. I have had family spend time in a high security facility. Patients aren’t allowed out until they are given approval by the doctors there. Most are out pretty quickly though, not because they are healthy enough to be released, but because their insurance doesn’t cover the stay. Doctors are often forced to release patients against better judgment. Not only because of insurance issues, but also because of a lack of space. There are always new patients coming in (often from the ER) and so they need to release the less-serious patients, even if they haven’t properly been helped. I read about these issues on a few sites, including this one with multiple accounts by people who stayed in a ward. I also saw it first hand – my family member was released after only three days, only to have a massive breakdown shortly after, which led to them being re-admitted.
I noticed that the doctors, and especially the nurses, were almost zombie-like. They weren’t mean or cruel, but they weren’t friendly and warm either. They are overworked and understaffed. They don’t have the time to do much for patients. They make sure they don’t hurt themselves, but they don’t do too much to help in the long run. My family member was given a bottle of pills and sent away after those three days. The medications were never taken. That visit to the psych ward was essentially useless.
I also once had a class with someone who worked at a mental hospital. She said she lost count of how many times she had been bitten, punched, and spit on by patients. Nurses and other staff may go into the job with good intentions, but are quickly shut down by the reality of it. Plus, there isn’t much they can do in only a few days.
The only one who was friendly and kind was the social worker. She really wanted to see the patient get the help they needed. But again, as nice as she was, she couldn’t do much other than give a pile of pamphlets on mental health. She wasn’t heard from again after that.
Thy cruelty and experiments of the old days may be gone, but it’s been replaced by apathy and insurance battles.