At statehood, thousands of acute care psychiatric patients were being mistreated. If asked, the patients would have called it a crisis. When did the mistreatment stop? It hasn’t. And so far, no one has asked the disabled what they want to do to reduce mistreatment. There are approximately 10,000 acute care psychiatric patients annually that have no voice in affecting interchangeable patient rights and quality of care.
Fifty years ago, acute care psychiatric patients would not have listed more bed space as the solution to their mistreatment. And today it would only be in the top three — respect and dignity would be No. 1. And the ability to file a grievance and appeal in a fair way would be No. 2. That would be the solution from the patients, but from state bureaucracies and many advocacy organizations, they have it reversed. More patient bed space, more hospital staff, bigger budget. And that is a solution that has failed for the past 50 years.
Until the disabled psychiatric patients are brought into the conversation, there is not going to be a lasting solution to the crisis in mental health treatment in Alaska.
Rights for the disabled need to be improved legislatively in 2019.
Mental Health Advocates
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not that of the Juneau Empire.