Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mental Health Infrastructure

After a lengthy post on education and the problems caused by certain students the systems cannot seem to effectively address, I ran across this important article as well.

It deals with Nebraska's Safe Haven Law and the picture portrayed in the news and among pop culture, but it deals with these issues from the other side: from the parents who have relinquished custody of their kids because they felt they had no where else to turn, no alternatives. It is a rough tale, but an important one given the state of our communities, families and institutions in this country. Doctors are saying our medical facilities are suspect, which only means our mental health facilities are worse off.

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1 comment:

Dante said...

Let's get something straight here. Safe Haven is not equivalent to relinquishing custody. Most states actually think about these things beforehand and have sane processes for relinquishing custody.

My cousin is currently a ward of the state in Texas. She has a severe form of mental retardation and her parents couldn't give her the care she needed. Texas didn't just open their doors to anyone willy-nilly to drop their kids off at the nearest hospital. They had an actual screening process to determine if she was eligible.

Her parents and her brother visit her as often as they can and she comes home for most holidays and family get-togethers. In fact, I last saw her during the Thanksgiving break. Her parents are pretty well kept in the loop on her well being but do not get any say in treatment.

If Nebraska wants to allow minors (or anyone else for that matter) to become a ward of the state, then they should have a need-based process established to do so. There should be no question of endangerment or abandonment and the new guardian (the state in this case) should sign off on the process. I can certainly understand these parents' situation but the Nebraska Safe Haven Law is not a viable solution to that problem. There needs to be a solid line between actual abandonment and relinquishing custody.