Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 21, 2007
Community treatment orders could save lives
Proposal offers reasonable restraint to those who may endanger themselves
By AUSTIN MARDON
I have seen many of my mentally ill friends' lives become derailed when they have stopped taking their medications.
It should be understood that the medications that are administered for schizophrenia, depression and bipolar have serious side effects. This is often why individuals choose to go against medical advice to their own detriment.
Medicine in the area of mental illness does not offer perfect treatments but they are the best that are available. When in the cloud of mental illness, a person often isn't capable of understanding the importance of taking medication because the illness often attacks that part of ourselves that would allow us to have the insight that there is something wrong.
I have seen many of my mentally ill friends' lives become derailed when they have stopped taking their medications. CTOs, as I understand they are going to be enacted, will be reserved for people who have had several admissions to hospital for psychiatric reasons.
The government is putting stringent criteria around the implementation of these orders, and they will be limited to only the most ill of patients.
An analogue to this situation is in how older people with Alzheimer's or dementia are not allowed to wander the streets in a fog and be a danger to themselves. We don't pick up people with brain injuries and throw them into jail for nuisance crimes committed because of their disability.
As a society we have decided to take care of the elderly when they lose their faculties. What is so different with people with schizophrenia and bipolar?
I have accepted my illness, and take my medications zealously. This has allowed me to retain a modicum of sanity, and to lead a fairly healthy life, even if it is not what most of society would consider "normal."
Many mentally ill get on a roller coaster because they lack the insight to know they are ill, and that going on and off medications will disrupt their lives over and over.
I have, through the grace of God, been given the insight to know that I have a serious illness, and will for the rest of my life have to take medication for it. CTOs are a drastic step that will only be used as a last resort, but hopefully will save the lives of the seriously mentally ill.
(Austin Mardon has had schizophrenia for the last 14 years and was just awarded the Order of Canada for his work on behalf of schizophrenics. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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