Friday, September 27, 2019

Cashing in on mental health by depriving patients of freedom?

The Tampa Bay Times has a disturbing report about a local mental health institution, North Tampa Behavioral Health, and its alleged habit of keeping them as long as possible - whether they need it or not.

More than two thousand people arrive each year at North Tampa Behavioral Health in extreme crisis.

They are checked in under a state law that lets mental health centers keep people who might hurt themselves or others for up to 72 hours.

But when that time is over, some patients find themselves held captive by the place that is supposed to protect them.

Priya Sarran-Persad had a psychologist threaten to commit her a second time if she didn’t volunteer to stay longer. Michael Jenkins hired a lawyer to help him get out but couldn’t for a week because the hospital never sent his paperwork to a judge. Robert Allen was held an extra three days for not participating in group therapy. His family was stunned. Allen is deaf and wasn’t given his hearing aids.

Each night they stayed, more money flowed into the psychiatric hospital.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that North Tampa Behavioral makes huge profits by exploiting patients held under Florida’s mental health law, known as the Baker Act.

The hospital illegally cuts patients off from their families. Then it uses loopholes in the statute to hold them longer than allowed, running up their bills while they are powerless to fight back.

Some patients describe getting virtually no psychiatric treatment. Meanwhile, people at risk of suicide have been allowed to hurt themselves, and helpless patients have been attacked on the ward.

For this, the hospital charges up to $1,500 per night.

There's more at the link.

The Tampa Bay Times has already established quite a reputation for investigative journalism, such as its list of the 50 worst charities in America.  This latest article is apparently the first in an occasional series about Florida's mental health issues.  I'll look forward to reading the others as they come out.

The thing is, this isn't just important for Florida readers.  This sort of heavy-handed state intervention, handing authority over patients to care providers, is already being promoted elsewhere.  (It's eye-opening to see that many of those supporting it are health care providers like hospitals and clinics.  The reason for their support is obvious - they stand to make money out of it.)  The consequences can be disastrous.  Not only are jobs and (potentially) relationships at risk, but there are legal implications.  Mental health issues can directly affect your right to keep and bear arms.  If you're involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, that may result in you losing that right.

I recommend you read the whole article, and think about the laws where you live.  It might be worthwhile to see whether a local equivalent of Florida's Baker Act is being proposed, and if so, who's pushing for it.  Gun-owners in particular may want to be wary about it, and possibly organize against it if their rights are not sufficiently protected.



Tal Hartsfeld said...

What Germany did to the Jewish sector in the late 1930s and into the 1940s everyone else seems to see fit to do to those considered "mentally ill", who are homeless, anyone convicted of a sex offense or any kind of (even minor) sexual misconduct, or have fallen into any other kind of "social disgrace" or "social disfavor".

Nuke Road Warrior said...

Another issue, if your job requires a security clearance, you could loose not only your job but your career. I'm all for helping people with psychological problems, but this approach seems like it should be prosecuted as illegal detention. Unfortunately as the government is doing this, the perpetrators won't be prosecuted. Never forget that to some in government positions consider anyone who owns firearms as "crazy" and a threat to public safety.

SiGraybeard said...

I'd be beyond shocked to death if that were unique to North Tampa Behavioral Center.

As you point out, the Baker Act is Florida Law, and from what I've heard it's used very widely. One of those rumors people snicker about is payback to the county sheriff's deputies and city police officers for Baker Acting anyone who they can justify is "acting strangely". Remember, it's the clinic's best interest to keep people for at least those three days for observation so they give a few bucks to the sources that bring them in.

No, I'm sure it's just that I'm paranoid. Ooh! Baker Act time!

Beans said...

The law itself is a perfect example of how 'Red Flag' laws will work. Even if a person isn't showing themselves to be a serious threat, if enough witnesses say the person is, or the LEOs say the person is acting weird and is a threat to himself, then...


As to harsh treatment of the mentally ill, all we have to look to is what was done to the mentally ill during Woodrow Wilson's administration, and in the FDR administration 8 years later. Not good. Not good at all. Forced sterilizations, medical experimentation, you know, what we rightly hate the NAZIs for doing. Yeah... Bad.

Yet, President Trump was right when he spoke out about mass shootings et al. We do have a mental health issue. And it does need to be addressed. And the way we are addressing it, which puts the responsibility on the families and friends, is, in many ways, a bad thing. Our dropping most or all state mental health facilities back in the late 60's was the wrong response to some real issues. We as a society need to again address this.

Old NFO said...

Going to need more popcorn for this... And assholes like this SHOULD be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!

Philip Sells said...

Actual journalism! Amazing!

Divemedic said...

The Tampa Bay Times is a liberal anti gun rag. I doubt ANYTHING they report, even the weather.