Creating A Better Life

The three-and-a-half years I spent involved in a community mental health system were the worse years of my life.

I recommend you research, research, research any kind of treatment options you’re presented with. I can’t in good faith recommend a person attend a traditional day program.

I’m a champion of an IPRT or Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation Treatment program where you set a goal with a 12 to 24 month completion date and act resilient to get your life back on track.

This too: I recommend social skills training and also cognitive remediation for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. These treatments should be given as early in the recovery period as possible.

No: I’m not a fan of having people languish in traditional day programs or outpatient clinics that are little more than a babysitting service.

One director who had me speak to her patients lamented that they didn’t want to get jobs or go to school. She tried to have me pump up the audience to be inspired to take these risks. My talk fell on deaf ears. A friend suggested I had good things to say and did well: that it was only the audience that wasn’t buying in.

So: how can a community mental health center help clients if its director has assessed the patients don’t want to better themselves?

It’s a Catch-22. And certainly there are better community mental health centers out there. I’ve written about one great center in Topeka, Kansas at HealthCentral. I intend to write news articles about other agencies that truly help individuals conquer their mental health challenges.

Until “best practices” is the norm: I don’t think it’s wise to rely on treatments like “line dancing” and “yoga” that haven’t been proven to guarantee results.

Research, research, research your treatment options.

I will talk in a future entry about my other observations about mental health providers.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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