Dr. David J. Miklowitz is a professor of Medicine in California and Colorado. This Op-Ed is definitely worth a read. Generally it’s a reflection on mass murderers, stigma and mental health. I’ve made many of the points myself (and so have many others) but it is something that I think is worth reading. particularly because it discusses the very real difficulties of preventing some of the horrible tragedies that happen when an individual slips through the tattered mental health system. Excerpt:
I cannot imagine the pain that accompanies losing a child or spouse to a bullet, no matter who discharged it. But let’s not forget the importance of getting people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression the “continuity of care” they need, and developing mechanisms for keeping people in treatment when they are benefiting from it. Continuity of care — being able to see the same doctor or therapist over years and multiple episodes of psychiatric illness, being able to adjust one’s treatment when side effects become intolerable, and learning strategies (alongside one’s family members) to recognize and derail the development of new illness episodes — is a key to mental health. In the long-term, continuous mental health care will contribute to the safety of our society.
I think that this stress of continuity of care is important. In my case, my ability to have a constructive relationship with my family doctor (and now my new psychiatrist) is very helpful. However, especially given my paranoia that wasn’t easy to deal with at first. That I had a stable relationship with my doctors who worked with me to manage the side effects of my medication and balance them with the symptoms of my illness was enormously productive and supportive. I know I would have been completely lost if I faced a revolving door of diagnoses.