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Family members and people who are advocates for the legal rights of the mentally ill are not always on the same team, and I am not always on the same team as either one of them.

Here is an article by a mother supporting the new bill before Congress, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

Here is an article by legal advocates who do not support the bill. 

I have to admit, that I often do not see eye to eye with family members and the laws they want to get passed. I don’t agree with number 4 (in the first article) which would give caregivers and parents access to more information regarding the person in treatment.

For me, when I see a new doctor, I always sign a waiver allowing my husband access to all information regarding me. I want my doctor to feel free to talk to my husband about all aspects of my care in an emergency. I don’t, however, want anyone else to have that right. The only person I want to be able to make decisions about my mental health treatment is my husband. I do not want a treatment facility to release any information about my care to anyone else under any circumstances. If my husband is unable to make decisions along with my doctor, I would rather make these decisions on my own with my doctor even if I am not well.

I may not agree with all the issues of legal advocates either. For example, I recently did an interview with a feminist magazine and I mentioned that the law, as it currently stands in some states, about involuntary treatment should be changed to a lengthier amount of time. I think if someone is admitted involuntarily because they pose a risk to themselves or others that a hospital should be able to hold them longer than seventy-two hours. My reasoning behind this is that it often takes longer than seventy-two hours for psych medications to start working. I think someone at risk should be held a minimum of one week (I think a little longer would be better, but the extra four days may prove to save some lives).  This probably isn’t a popular position to the legal advocates of the mentally ill, but it makes perfect sense to me, someone who knows the difference a few days can make in terms of psychosis and stability.

Most other details of the law (spelled out clearly here), I am in support of with the exception of what I mentioned in my first paragraph and number 6 which limits the powers of national advocacy programs. The example they use for the provision of this change in policy is an advocate that told a mentally ill man what he needed to say to be released from care. He was released from care, and then murdered his mother. I think the person who counseled that man was unethical and negligent, but I don’t think all national advocacy programs interactions with the mentally ill should be changed because of one case.

Please feel free to comment/debate in the comment section. I am definitely open to hearing your opinions.