Alaska must strengthen mental health rights

I had an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a job I really liked, an automobile and property. That was all before I became disabled with schizophrenia. Over a five year period I lost everything. I went from being happy to often being humiliated and traumatized in institutions and psychiatric ER’s with no way to complain or effect changes.

After getting out of the psychiatric institutions, thousands of dollars were spent treating me for PTSD that was the result of institutional trauma.

Here are some stories of my encounters with the mentally-troubled.

• I pulled into the Carrs grocery store. There was a woman standing by the door with two bags of groceries. In an excited voice, she said to me, “Hi, Pops!” I was a little bit annoyed. I was her peer. I had grey hair and a grey beard. In the store I heard one clerk asking another clerk, “Who is the person standing outside?” “I don’t know—they have been there all night.”

That was when I figured out it was an old woman waiting for her father to show up—and he was never going to come.

• I walked out on a city street from an upstairs room. My neighbor, a pretty woman of twenty was standing there. I passed a few pleasantries, asked how she was doing. She said she was doing fine. Five minutes later from up the street, I saw her being placed in an ambulance. I was later told she was going back to the mental institution.

• He walked over and held out a Dixie cup with leaves in it and stated, “Nightshade.” Schizophrenics love to string words together and I said, “deadly.” With green spittle running down his chin, he wandered off, murmuring, “deadly nightshade.” He was eating the fichus plants in the institution.

An institution has the power to do good or inflict harm. Patients have a strong memory of good deeds—they also have an equally strong memory of poor treatment and institutional trauma.

Eight improvements for Alaska Mental Health Trust beneficiaries­

1. Improved grievance procedure law for the disabled

2. Inform the disabled of their rights

3. Single state office to investigate complaints of the disabled

4. Change how the disabled are detained and transported for mandatory psychiatric evaluation

5. Require recognition and treatment of institutional trauma

6. State must keep statistics of the number and type of complaints by the disabled

7. Institutions must not be allowed to remove rights of disabled for minor infractions of hospital rules.

8. And one of the most important rights, give (guarantee) all of the disabled timely assistance in the protection of their rights. In doing so, Alaska will reduce suicide/trauma and help recovery. And consolidating state offices responsible for protecting the disabled will actually save the state money.

Please help improve the rights for the disabled (Mental Health Trust beneficiaries).

Anchorage residents Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins advocate for mental health rights.