Psychiatrists are just one resource
TheStar.com – opinion/letters – Re: Leave mental health to experts, Letter, June 29
Published on Sunday July 01, 2012. W. Lee Helmer
Regarding June Conway Beeby’s letter suggesting that mental health treatment decisions are the sole bailiwick of psychiatrists, as in her opinion they are the experts, I hope this response will enlighten her and others.
A psychiatrist is but one resource and expert on a team. It is not unusual to hear individuals with a mental illness express deep concern that their psychiatrist (if they are lucky to have found one) has time to write medication scripts and little time for other supports. These individuals also speak to the fact that psychiatry is not a science but often is a guessing game as to which medication might be effective.
This is reflective of Beeby’s point that we are only now discovering how complex the human brain is in relation to mental health.
Teams of doctors, nurses, social workers and peer support workers are the circle of support for the real experts — the real experts being those of us with a mental illness. Peers often assume the role of systems navigator to guide the individual through the system to find the most appropriate service. Peers take the time to listen — an art that is often missing in today’s society and that is truly healing.
In closing, we “lay people” are the consumers of the mental health system, which only a few decades ago was locking us up in lunatic asylums and forcing us into cold water baths while in restraints. These were treatments and solutions offered by the “experts.”
W. Lee Helmer, Director of T.E.A.C.H. (Teach, Empower, Advocate for Community Health), Milton
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