Schizophrenia and Mental Health Policies – Disorder Example

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"Schizophrenia and Mental Health Policies" is a perfect example of a paper on the disorder.   Mental health is one of the most serious issues facing the world today. Only recently have practitioners and the public come to consider mental issues as the public health problem that they truly are. We are witnessing a dramatic shift in the definition of these problems and where and how they should be dealt with. Although public understanding of this issue is unfortunately still at an early stage, much has changed over the course of the last one hundred years.

The difference between perceptions of mental illness today and in the 19th century is between night and day. That said we need to dramatically increase the amount of information and education out there on this issue. We need to know when such things become a problem and when they should be left alone. Mental health is an issue that affects all of us and must be taken very seriously by all of us. Part of the solution to this issue is to understand its history.

This is especially true of mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disease characterized by the break down of mental processes and the ability to deal with reality. It often displays itself in delusional and erratic behavior, sometimes with outbursts of violence. Today it is treated with pharmaceuticals, but in the not so distant past, people with such mental illnesses were considered to be possessed by spirit or demons. People were frightened of them and locked them up in unpleasant asylums. They had few rights and fewer treatments. They were objects of fear and concern and were often not even considered human anymore.

The field of psychology only really began to develop about 120 years ago, with Freud's first work. Before that, few took the time to understand these issues. Someone like August in the Gruen's novel Water for Elephants would not have been treated if indeed he was schizophrenic. People would just have thought he was erratic and would not like him. However, it is unlikely that August was Schizophrenic. He was more likely a psychopath. He didn't really hear voices or act under the power of delusions.

He may have been bi-polar due to his mood swings, but it is most likely that he was a psychopath. He did seem to get a certain enjoyment out of harming people and animals. Nevertheless, he would not have received any treatment in the 1930s. Today there are, for example, serious deficits in the American criminal justice system with regards to the mentally ill and especially those with problems such as Schizophrenia. Too often their problems are not diagnosed or treated. They are also often kept in the general population rather than in special wards where their problems can be better treated.

Part of this stems from the high cost of treatment and the shortage of qualified doctors and nurses working in areas of mental health. Another important aspect of this problem arises from the fact that many states pass on the funding and control of programs for the mentally ill on the federal government and its bureaucracies. Rather than dealing with local problems on a local basis, too many of these very specific problems have to be addressed by a faceless group of officials in a distant capital.

This outsourcing has been very unsuccessful in helping improve the situation of the mentally ill with regards to the criminal justice system. But this situation is much better compared with what it was like in centuries past. There were no pleas of insanity in a court. People with mental illness who committed crimes had no treatment of representation. They were just locked up and the key was thrown away. There are a number of contemporary public policies we must address regarding mental health.

One of the most important things for businesses to consider when starting up is whether to how much of their employee's healthcare costs they should pay. This is part of a great debate about healthcare and whether the state or employers should pay it or whether people should be responsible for it themselves. It comes down to the basic question: is healthcare a private or a public good? That is a vital question to ask regarding mental health as costs associated with it can be not only astronomical but seriously affect employees' work performances.

In the past, people did not have health insurance and it certainly did not cover mental health. Mental health issues were a dirty secret that people did not talk about. They locked their sick relatives in the attic and pretending they didn't exist. If August had been a Schizophrenic, that is probably what would have happened to him. The truth is, in order to deal with the scourge of mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, we need a revolution in care.

We first learn to care for other people in families. The family is one of society’ s cornerstones. It is the place we learn, we love, and that defines us. It has many roles, but among its more important roles is in promoting and reinforcing the health of its members. Parents teach their children to eat well, exercise and stay healthy. But education is only part of it. When a member is ill, families can be extremely important in supporting that member and helping them to get better. Family can have many definitions but it usually refers to immediate relations such as a mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, or child.

All of the individuals through their love of one another can provide maximum support and encouragement to a patient. Facing mental illness, a powerful support network is one of the key things people need. They can also provide a standard of care that it may not be possible for even the most well-trained nurse to provide. When caring for a person it is important to be sympathetic and supportive and not to lose one’ s patience.

Indeed, when working in a hospital, medical practitioners can rely on and even imitate the caring behavior of family members. This is a great way to pool resources and work efficiently especially when dealing with a taxing mental illness. However, although families are the original site of caring education and the main source of support for people who are ill, they can sometimes overdo things. Although the majority of family members are caring and have good intentions towards their relation it is also possible some family members may increase a patient’ s stress levels or be generally detrimental to a patient’ s health.

This is surely one of the most difficult situations for a nurse: deciding who can and can’ t see a patient. Although some family members will claim unlimited access to a patient, nurses must decide what is appropriate and what is not.   If August had a support network and had been a Schizophrenic, he might have been able to get better more quickly. Mental health issues are not going anywhere. Schizophrenia is not going anywhere. Indeed, there is a good chance that these issues will become even more prominent in the next few years as we begin to understand more about them.

We need to understand the continuum of mental health and what we can do to properly address these issues.


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Gruen, Sara. (2006). Water for Elephants. New York: Algonquin Books.

Nunes, Julia & Scott Simmie. (2002). Beyond Crazy: Journeys Through Mental Illness. McClelland & Stewart.

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