Patrick A. Mallare
Mental health facilities provide different services to a person at any age who are experiencing mental and emotional crisis. Some of these services include alcohol and substance abuse treatment, behavioral disorders treatment, rehabilitations and support groups. These facilities are very helpful to our society as mental health professionals work together to help and support those people in need to regain their good mental health and live normally.
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There are several mental health facilities around the world, however, some of these facilities are planning to close or had closed already. Some reasons of the facilities closure are related to financial issues, non-compliance with the laws and regulations or quality of care complaints. There is one in York, the Bootham Park hospital (public adult mental health hospital) have decided to closed in October 2015 with only five days’ notice. Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors came unannounced and “found it was unfit for purpose and that patients were at significant risk of harm” (Slawson, 2015) and forced to close in 5 days. But, per Greenwood (2016), there is a speculation that the hospital will be sold to private developers. Another mental health facility, the Community Counseling Centers of Chicago which is known as “one of the largest providers of mental health services to poor North Siders; which cares for more than 10,000 patients, including children” (“Chicago”, 2015) was about to close in May 2015 due to financial difficulties. But because of the concern to 10,000 existing patients, C4 remained open with partnership agreement to CountyCare, Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Medicaid health plan (Zumbach, 2015). Closure of any facilities whether it is small or big facilities matters to all the patients and their families as well as the employees and healthcare professionals.
Mental health facilities closure has big impact to everyone especially the patients who are seeking help for their recovery. Serious problems might be encountered and will greatly affect
their lives. The first option that patients will do if facility closes is to find a new facility where they would be accepted to receive the care that they need. And, looking for a new place means changing their healthcare provider. In this situation, any changes will be difficult for these kinds of patients with mental and behavioral disorders. Like what Fawcett (2014) mentioned in her article, “Medical records can be transferred in the blink of an eye but it takes much longer to open up to someone and feel comfortable talking about your symptoms, particularly if you have a stigmatized psychological disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder”. And, building rapport and developing a doctor-patient relationship could be difficult as well. Amy Watson, an associate professor at University of Chicago-Illinois’s Jane Adams College of Social Work who specializes in mental health policy, also stated that “it takes months before you’re in a position where you might know that person, trust that person and feel comfortable with really working on things with them” (Fawcett, 2014). It is difficult to build a trusting relationship to anyone especially for patients with severe mental disorders/illnesses. In this situation, physical and emotional challenges may be experienced and this will affect their decision whether they will be interested to look for another facility for their treatment or just do nothing.
Per Hwong (2016), San Francisco’s county jail is the largest mental health facility wherein 35 to 40 percent of inmates are getting treatment for mental illness. Closure of mental health facilities is one of the reason why people with mental health issues especially poor people ended up in jail. One example that Fawcett (2014) mentioned in her article, a homeless person sleeping on somebody’s car will be arrested for trespassing when the driver calls the police. In this situation, it is not really their intention to scare people. They just don’t have any place to go to. And, if those homeless people are mentally ill and was not receiving the medication treatment that they’re supposed to take, then their behaviors will show and will act differently.
Closure of mental health facilities or other healthcare facilities is very devastating.
Patients, families, employees and healthcare professionals cannot control or stop this kind of situation. It is the owner’s responsibility on how to maintain the facility’s integrity, quality of care and compliance to laws and regulation to meet the quality standards in a facility. But, before both parties agrees with the closure of the facilities, they should think about their existing patients too who really needed their help. For some people with mental and behavioral disorders, that place is the only place that they know for sure a safe place to stay and get recovered. So, when people try to take away this place to them, they might be in distress again, panic and make them more confuse. I agreed with Hwong (2016) statement: “Directing funding to mental health and housing services rather than more criminal justice facilities is a first step in the right direction, but clinicians and consumers must be part of the process; If we dare, we can develop innovative solutions for mental health care – ones that allow people to live with the kind of dignity and justice that we all deserve”. This is one of the main solution and alternative shelter and a place for continues recovery for people with mental and behavioral disorders when mental facilities decided to close.
Greenwood, P. (2016). The NHS mental health hospital closed with just five days’ warning. The
Fawcett, K. (2014). What Happens to Patients When Mental Health Clinics Close? US News.
Retrieved from: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/09/30/what-happens-to-patients-when-mental-health-clinics-close
Hwong, A. (2016). S.F.’s largest mental health facility – the jail. San Francisco Chronicle.
Retrieved from: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/S-F-s-largest-mental-health-facility-the-10645994.php
Slawson, N. (2015). Bootham Park Hospital: sudden closure leaves patients vulnerable. The
Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/01/
Zumbach, L. (2015). Mental health deal keeps Community Counseling Centers of Chicago open.
Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-c4-countycare-agreement-met-20150515-story.html
‘Devastating’ closure of mental health centers to hit 10,000 patients next month. Chicago
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