The more we offer the more they resist

One of the most frustrating and contradictory parts of the community mental health field is that for a hard core individuals in crisis, the more services that are offered, the more they will resist. Show them opportunities to lives comfortably in an apartment and they will still show up at the psychiatric crisis services claiming to be homeless. If you listen, they will stop talking. If you walk away they will say you abandoned them. It was a common them in the report on the Milwaukee mental health redesign that people ended up in crisis repeatedly not because no one reached them but because they resisted being reached.

When we talk with candidates we need to find out their ideas and views about mental health because these problems will not solve themselves. We have families struggling with their relatives and going back and forth over whether to put them out or go look for them. Sometimes you can’t even find these individuals to be able to offer them help. I’ve seen people scream obscenities at their case managers. In peer support training we are told to roll with resistance, but in some cases, the resisters just try to roll faster.

By the way, we are used to talking with people about Medicare and Social Security as programs to assist the elderly, but they can be lifelines for people experiencing sever mental illness. Together with food stamps and section 8 housing vouchers they are the core of protection was can offer people. There are various levels of housing available that we can assit people in obtaining. The most important program around is people. People as peer specialists, family loved ones, friends and fellow travelers. Maybe the bus driver, the librarian or aother non-mental health professional who encountered a person in distress while on the job. How did you respond? What did you say?

Sometimes it can be like pulling teeth to get people to tell you what is on their minds. It may also be an unpleasant experience because of the person’s poor hygiene. Get over it. There but for fortune, go you or I. So even though this entry started out sounding rather bleak, upon further reflection, I know that I will still keep trying.

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