Familiar Phrases

November 14, 2017 by  

“He was here four years ago and didn’t make much progress; so, I don’t see why he would do any better now.

He is not a good fit for our program.

If we allow him to stay and break our rules, others will break rules and hurt our program.

He should be elsewhere to overcome his drug problem and then return to work on his mental illness.
But, aren’t you a co-occurring facility?
Yes, but his drug problems are pretty severe and we focus more on mental illness.

He should be elsewhere to work on his mental illness and then return to work on his drug problems.
But, aren’t you a co-occurring facility?
Yes, but his mental illness is pretty severe and we focus more on substance abuse.

He’s ready to graduate out of our program and get a part-time job.
Three weeks later:
He needs to go to a hospital.

He’s not engaging.
But, you’re the ACT Team, specialists in reaching out to persons who have difficulty engaging.
Well, he’s just not doing his part and he’s not making any progress.

We’re accountable to our funding sources for showing progress by our residents.

He is not progressing and his slot should be occupied by someone who can make progress.

THE MOST COMMON THEME: He needs a higher level of care than we can provide.
Where do you recommend?
I don’t know.”

Dick Dunseath – Arizona father of a son with serious mental illness

Thus, the most chronically-afflicted mentally ill persons (often with co-occurring substance abuse issues) often are denied critically-needed services because places with a higher level of care exist only in psychiatric hospitals, designed more to stabilize patients than to provide long-term, supportive services.

Their families spoke up this week at a public hearing Thursday, November 16th because the state has great plans for the 93 acres of trust land upon which the Arizona State Hospital sits to create a “Psychiatric Center of Excellence” and frankly, they’re concerned.   They’re concerned that the long term facilities these vulnerable individuals need will take a back seat to other, more profitable services for the partners interested in developing this Center – and Arizona’s seriously mentally ill will continue to cycle through our emergency rooms, the streets and eventually – institutionalized in our prisons – at a higher cost to everyone.

For more information on the Public Private Partnership (P3), click here.



13 Responses to “Familiar Phrases”
  1. Hi Nancy,
    I was so pleased to read your mental health insert this month. Forty five years ago my first husband began to behave in a way I didn’t understand. I went to our family doctor and told him I thought my husband was becoming ill and what could I do to stop it and help him. To my shock I was told I could do nothing except try to talk him into getting some help on his own unless he did something overt to someone else or tried to kill himself. Our family was young four children under the age of eight and we were in Washington D.C. having moved there the year before so he could work with the Peace Corps as a recruiter. I had no family around to back me up and my family here could do nothing. It was a terrifying year of watching him slip further and further away until he finally started passing bad checks and we were able to get him some hospital help. I am so pleased you are bringing these things to light. It’s sad to realize nothing has changed in all those years.

    Thanks for listening

    Zona Lawrence

  2. Kimberly Parker says:

    I think the 93 acres of trust land should be used to create a “Psychiatric Center of Excellence”.
    Our community really needs additional resources for our Seriously Mentally Ill. I know of several personal friends going through difficulties finding residential places for they’re family members with SMI.

  3. The 93 acres of trust land should be used to create a Psychiatric Center of Excellence for our Seriously Mentally Ill.

  4. Nancy Stephenson says:

    I think that the 93 acres of trust land should totally be used to create a “Psychiatric Center of Excellence”. There are too many mentally ill people who have no place to go especially after a they are stabilized they will just end up on the streets again, they need a long term place to stay. This land is perfect for this. Let’s help the mentally ill, it is so important. If they are put back on the streets not only will they not improve or stay stable, but possibly injure themselves or another person.

  5. Georgetta Christensen says:

    I am the mother of a 28 year old man who lives with Schizoaffective Disorder and has been adjudicated SMI. He was diagnosed at age 14.
    I am also a citizen who is concerned about the safety and humane treatment that individuals in our seriously mentally ill population deserve, as well as the safety and peace that is desired in our homes and communities.
    For 14 years my husband & I have worked with the mental health care system in this state. On numerous occasions we have utilized the services of the Mesa Police Department, local emergency rooms, the urgent psychiatric care facility, involuntary care through court ordered treatment, in-patient psychiatric hospitals, and assisted outpatient treatment through Partners In Recovery and the treatment team established there.
    It took 10 years for my son to be stabilized to the point where we can live with him in peace. He is unable to work due to the intrusive thought patterns that are part of this illness, but he is helpful at home and has a daily routine that suits him. He follows the treatment regimen prescribed, but we are aware that changes can occur at any time that would upset the level of stability he has attained. We realize he may someday need more intense care. Or when we are gone, he may need supportive, residential care.
    So for this period of peace, we are most grateful, even as we encourage him through some days of despair and thoughts of hopelessness. And we are aware that many individuals never reach the point where they understand enough about their illness to be compliant with a treatment plan.
    In light of the mass violence across our nation that has been attributed to untreated mental illness, I would beg of you to use this opportunity to provide excellent, long-term care facilities for our state’s most vulnerable seriously mentally ill. Prison guards passing pills and trying to keep the peace is not humane care. Living on the streets is not acceptable. Families fearful of moving freely about their own home, in constant stress, should move us to bring what relief we can. I pray that your eyes would be open to see and your ears would hear our plea for help.

  6. Debra Copeland says:

    Arizona definitely needs long term care facilities for our SMI individuals who are currently just blowing in the wind. They don’t stay put in a community residential facility for various reasons ranging from paranoia, voices telling them to leave, being kicked out for substance abuse, their lack of insight to their illness, etc. Our dual diagnosed smi loved ones deserve to have a “safe” place where they can reside (their safety as well as the general public). Creating a Psychiatric Center of Excellence on the 93 acres of trust land surrounding the Arizona State Hospital is definitely something that would benefit the more seriously mentally ill patients in Arizona. We would actually be able to provide adequate treatment in a suitable restricted environment which we can’t do now….we rely on our jails and prisons to provide treatment and our smi patients deserve better than that. Please make good use of the 93 acres at the Arizona State Hospital site and create a Psychiatric Center of Excellence!! Thank You! I’d be happy to go into further details on how our current mental health system is failing.

  7. Debra Hay says:

    Thank you for your diligent work on this matter and for the opportunity to reply. The subject of psychiatric diagnosing, treatment and care has affected so many families. My brother was misdiagnosed at a young age and was basically untreated professionally for years. When he was able to be helped, he rejected the treatment and over time became homeless. Like so many others he bounced from prison to the military to the street and self medication.
    A private and public partnership on the ASH property for long term care and treatment of the most severely affected patients would be THE number one goal. Different levels of care and treatment could be offered but only for psychiatric patients. No other diagnoses except psych related. A Center of Excellence model could be developed and Phoenix could become nationally recognized as one of the top ten instead of the bottom two. This could help patients and families, in addition to creating professional, technical and ancillary job opportunities.

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