Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Diagnosis: Critical

Severe mental illness makes the news every day, as you can see from any Google search or from checking our newsticker.

But it rarely gets the kind of thoughtful and deep examination offered by Pennsylvania’s Delaware County Times in a recent six-day series called "Diagnosis: Critical."

Diagnosis: Critical, Part 1: When law, illness collide (10/30/05)
"We’re seeing more and more every day," Ridley Park Police Chief Thomas J. Byrne said. "We get the calls from people who want us to ‘do something.’ But how do you make somebody who doesn’t want or doesn’t think that they need it, get help?" Byrne said. "We can’t."

Diagnosis: Critical, Part 2: How the system works (10/31/05)
It's a delicate balance between the individual person's rights and the individual's safety and the safety of others," noted [Jonna] DiStefano.

Diagnosis: Critical, Part 3: When training falls short (11/01/05)
[Magisterial District Judge Peter] Tozer said he’s encountered several cases involving people frustrated by mentally ill neighbors -- as well as caretakers who were overcome with frustration in caring for a mentally ill loved one. "In that situation, I would love to know how many times mom or dad or whoever said, ‘Did you take your medication today?’"

Diagnosis: Critical, Part 4: Jails house the mentally ill (11/02/05)
"Prisons are housing more and more mentally ill people because we have no other place to put them," said Jessica Raymond, a member of the Pennsylvania Prison Society who monitors conditions at the county prison.

Diagnosis, Critical, Part 5: Services evolve as needs change (11/03/05)
In the two decades since a mentally ill woman named Sylvia Seegrist gunned down nine people at the Springfield Mall, killing three and seriously injuring six, the Pennsylvania mental-health act, which governs commitment procedures, has not changed. But the modes of treatment for the mentally ill have changed, especially since the closing of Haverford State Hospital in 1998.

Diagnosis: Critical, Part 6: A man unravels, with tragic results (11/04/05)
Jaep remembers thinking … that the tragedy could have been prevented if the laws in place then were less restricted and her parents could have had more control.

A proposal for reform to get help with mental-health issues (11/04/05)
Her mother believes that if Seegrist had had court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment such as that proposed by Pennsylvania Senate Bill 213, she may have been stabilized and the Springfield Mall tragedy may have been averted. "That would give people like Sylvia some real good monitoring," said Ruth Seegrist, who has been an avid advocate for the mentally ill and their families in the 20 years since the mall tragedy.