S has a mental illness, schizophrenia I think, from the way he yells at the voices in his head some times. And his mantra "I am a nice person I don't hurt people you know...."
He is alone most of the time, isolated in his craziness, too paranoid to come for dinner on the couple of occasions that we have asked him. No friends ever visit him, he roams around on foot or in the car. His personal hygiene is terrible. He must be awfully lonely.
Then there is K she is a client of mine at work. She has been mentally unwell for as a long as she can remember. She has had fifteen admissions to the psyc ward in the last 8 weeks and
numerous suicide attempts including today where she lay on the road in front of a moving tram and it nearly hit her. The emergency department and the pych unit where she usually attends will no longer see her. She is homeless, addicted to drugs, skinny and desperate. Her suicide attempts are not because she is depressed but an attempt to get what she wants, a symptom of her confused mind
These are the forgotten mentally ill of our society. They are not unwell enough to access acute psyc services but need long term care so they are safe. But there are no such places, because, we, the sane, (well mostly) decided institutions are bad. Chucked the baby out with the bath water as we are want to do. I am not advocating for the bad old days when we locked them away never to be seen again but instead communities where they can be safe, housed and have access to the help they so desperately need.
Mental health is drastically under funded both at a state and federal level. Our prisons are full of mentally ill who are not being treated appropriately. Mental health workers are overloaded and there is a huge burn out rate.
My fear for both S and K is that something bad is going to happen to them. That one day the tram will hit K or S will act out the things his voices are telling him to do. A colleague of mine says she feels sick every time she thinks of K-that her time is short. K thinks she is "beyond help" and quite frankly the way the system works now she probably is.
I have no real answers, but instead questions. Who will go to K's funeral when it happens? Is there a better way? Are their some people who are in fact not able to be helped?
If you do, would you mind saying a prayer for S and K that they might have some rest from their minds and find some peace......