Monday, June 18, 2007

A common sense mental health system? We can only hope.

In his Sunday column in the Washington Post, Marc Fisher makes the following observation about the arcane application of confidentiality in mental health:
“But any system that lets rigid laws take precedence over common sense, human caring and the free flow of information is destined to fail.”
He quotes Marcus Martin, an emergency room physician who is on Virginia Governor Kaine's commission investigating the Virginia tech shooting whose common sense view leads him to observe:
"We keep head-injured patients, trauma patients, involuntarily all the time," said. "We don't rely on the legal system. It should be the same for mental health."
But, it’s not just in Virginia that questions about the mental health system’s hyper-vigilance about confidentiality have arisen. Maine Senator Peter Mills (R-Somerset) introduced a bill this session that is intended to clarify confidentiality provisions so that mental health professionals can disclose information to families and caregivers who may be at risk of harm from a psychiatric patient.

Hopefully, this is all part of a trend to bring common sense in the application of confidentiality in mental health cases.

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