Persons Needing Care for Mental Health

Thomas Szaz wrote an eassay, and latter a book titled: the Myth of Mental Illness. Each student needs to read this work, at least the article, before continuing this lesson. [It is on reserve in the library.]

Since the time of Szaz first article, there have been psychiatirists and health care personnelle who have taken seriously the idea that mental health issues are issues in living. They know that behavior can be changed by pharmocology. Anyone's behavior can be changed by pharmocology. However, they have advocated a non-pharmocological approach to learning to live with unsual psychic states.

Other health care consumers, advocates and practitioners have fully embraced pharmocology as the means for treating mental health problems.

And finally, there are those who advocate community support systems and pharmocology with consent of the clients.

We need to get cleaer about where we stand on the treatment of mental health issues:

  1. Do persons with mental health problems deserve moral regard or are they to be controlled for the ease of others who do not experience their psychic states?
  2. Do persons with mental health issues deserve ethical empathy?
  3. Should treatment, including confinement, ever be coercive?
  4. What should be the role of informed consent?
  5. Do we owe something to those with mental health needs even if we do not work in the field? etc.
As with most issues in health care it is worth learning from those who expereince a problem at the beginning of our study of a problem. First person accounts can teach us something that few textbooks or scientific studies will cover.

Here is a site by Sally Clay in which she describes her first mental health episode

Sally Clay offers an important essay, Healing and Empowerment on her main page. In her work withthe physicians at Mid-Hudson State mental hosptial she wrote the essay, Doctors and Drugs: What do Patients Want.


Sally Clay is gifted writer in that she is both a user of mental health services and she is a provider in the mental heath care system. I urge you to read at least 2 of her other pieces.....any items after #9 at this site.

Now reflect on your own expereince with mental health problems: personal, family, friends, acquaintances. How have you felt around persons expereincing psychic states that are not common to your life? HOw do you feel when you meet someone experiencing real difficulty in fitting in society's ordinary standards of behavior?

Can you empathize at all? If you can not, do you know what holds you back? Not until you are aware of your own epistemological and moral stance, can you be free enough to decide on your philosophy. Take time. One reason I put this lesson on the disk is so that you can work at this at your own pace.

Now, go to the 5 questions listed earlier in this lesson and answer them. Put your reasons for your answers in writing.