How Serious Are We About Psychiatric Disease?

February 11, 2014

Psychiatric treatment requires primary intervention and solid follow-up care, like diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions. More in this commentary by a resident in psychiatry.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"22784","attributes":{"alt":"improving psychiatric care","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_67446249369","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"1687","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"float: right; margin: 10px;","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]COMMENTARY

There needs to be more discussion about how we as a society perceive and respond to individuals suffering from psychiatric disease. And they do suffer. I see it on a daily basis at the inner city hospital in New York City where I am a psychiatry resident.

Imagine, if you can, being so depressed that you have auditory hallucinations or feel as if those people closest to you are in fact agents sent to do you harm. You are so emotionally labile that your behavior prompts calls to 911. Psychiatric disorders are an organically based loss of control, wrought with hopelessness, confusion, and at times a grip on reality.

Existing community resources are stretched thin and are often not equipped to handle acute psychiatric emergencies. This includes physical facilities, as well as appropriate sources of referral for long-term treatment.

This is a public health issue that affects all of us, and much like smoking, there are second-hand repercussions. There will continue to be individuals who go without treatment or who receive substandard care, which places them and the community at risk.

Psychiatric treatment requires primary intervention and solid follow-up care, like diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions. The result of adequate care and follow-up would be greater compliance with treatment, reduction in exacerbation of symptoms, and an improved quality of life overall for patients and their families.

If we as a nation are truly serious about working toward a solution, then we must begin to fund broader community resources, properly staff facilities with trained professionals, increase access to services, and promote education programs.

Disclosures:

Dr Ackerman is a third-year psychiatry resident at New York Medical College-Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City. He is a passionate advocate for his patients and works towards disseminating a more accurate and empathic understanding of psychiatric disease.