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Mental Health Care

Mental Health > Mental Health Care

Mental health care is not what it used to be. It used to be more limited in its professional caretakers’ thinking and practices. It used to, conversely, be more all inclusive in its professionals accepting into care everyone from alcoholics to “cripples” to social outcasts and political renegades. As far back as the 1800’s, for example, if a woman refused to have sex with her husband, she could be sent to the institution, committed by her husband without explanation on his part and without right to refusal on hers. That long ago, too, any straying with emotions from the rigid social pack was cause for commitment.

But that was then. Then, the negative stigma attached to mental health care (found mostly in mental institutions) might have been earned, as the system defined such care in terms that included drugs like Thorazine that were forced on patients (who were forcibly institutionalized for any number of problems—addictive, behavioral, and other non-psychotic states); that included shock therapy as a knee-jerk response to tears and cries for help, and that made homesteads with difficult or troubled teens heard to emit gross generalizations and threats of how if the offending person didn’t “behave”, he/she would be locked up (in a “nut house”).

“What are you, mental?” was a favorite in my household, and they didn’t mean I was mentally superior, was overusing my mental capaciousness, or was especially gifted—though with the modern miracles of mental health care I have experienced over the last six years I would wager they did mean I was mentally beyond what they could comprehend.

Before my time, in other homes, housewives were compelled to wash down their problems with cocktails of pink and yellow pills and green martinis, rather than suffer the recriminatory scoffs. Before their time, women who refused to be socially controlled by misogyny were not considered justified for their resistance measures, were not even given an opportunity for legitimate mental health care if they truly needed it, but were instead considered merely hysterical (thanks to Freud, who in the early 1900’s coined the word from the Latin word, hyster, womb) and tossed into looney bins.

But rest assured, the days of Francis Farmer and Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted) are behind us, and girl power (and boy power) are equalized and acknowledged, regardless of how deep our needs for mental health counseling—which are, by the way, available in online, listed in phone books under state services, and in counties and boroughs and townships worldwide. And they are saving lives, daily.

Do not be daunted by the pamphlet or online descriptions. Some mental health care facilities might define their offerings as intended for “persons with serious mental illnesses”, and this might cause you to reflect back to when having a mental problem was unacceptable, untreatable without institutionalization, or unmanageable without heavy sedatives that made people even more unfit for social interaction than they were thought to be. But that was then.

Mental Health > Mental Health Care