I’ve been discussing the atrocities of the mental health facilities here in the US from the POV of me, friends and loved ones. (For a poem about it, view I’m a diagnosis, a thing. We’re all just things- poem by Drem.)
Psych wards are the closest thing to jail an innocent person who never entered a police station can find themselves in. So… These are my ideas. Writing as I’m thinking of them.
- Children and adults should not be kept on the same floor.
- Age groups should be divided for children if on the same floor. IE, 3-6 year olds in section A. 7-10 year olds in section B. 11-15 in section C. 16 and up can be adult floor.
- Women and men should be kept on separate floors. Have you seen a 40 year old schizophrenic man try to rape an 18 year old girl with bipolar? No. I don’t care if this seems controversial to you. It’s reality. Keep them separate, especially the older men from the younger women. Also, I get more numbers in a psych ward than in a bar. It’s awkward because I have to live with these guys that keep hitting on me for however long. It should also be a reportable offense.
- All patients should be given a talk about sexual harassment and have to sign forms upon take in no matter age or gender.
- People who exhibit violent behaviors should be kept in special quarters away from the general pop, no matter the floor. If a patient tries to beat another patient or has a known violent criminal history they need to get the padded cell treatment or be moved to a special facility.
- Ask about gang affiliations BEFORE take in. OMG.
- People withdrawing from crack and other drugs should be closely monitored. I would prefer withdrawal patients to be away from general pop only because they can display erratic behavior… even by psych ward standards.
- And AA meetings every day should be a given, even if not currently withdrawing/getting clean/on methadone.
- NO SHARP OBJECTS! MOST OF US ARE HERE FOR SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, or at the very least are cutter lovers. Don’t tempt us. Floors should have soft edges on furniture. Sporks, not knives or forks.
- Have drinking water available for patients at all times
- Bathroom showers should have warm water. Nobody likes cold showers.
- Have snacks ready for patients who need to take pills with food.
- Access to music and a library during the day really helps.
- Give patients more than one blanket and pillow from the beginning because asking can be too hard. Also, warmer garb that isn’t practically transparent.
- Make the nicer psych wards in Connecticut or California affordable. $40,000 a month. Really!?!
- All food should be edible.
- Cameras in all common areas.
- Make home plans with patients besides the “keep taking these pills.” Address living situations, food access, etc. Social workers should be able to find housing (halfway house) and offer SNAP/food stamps expedited.
- Stop asking patients the same questions. It wastes time. Read the damn chart before entering!
- Be nice to all patients and don’t treat us as a diagnosis. Listen. Evaluate. Listen more. Wait. Then offer ideas.