Obviously it is important for those who have mental disorders to have rights. Sometimes however, these rights bar parents from helping their child. These same rights also set potential killers free. The last ting I want to do is to attach a stigma to mentally ill people, most are not violent. The mentally ill who are violent though have the same rights as say someone who’s disorder is clinical depression.
In Pennsylvania, once your child reaches fourteen, you, as a parent no longer have the right to make them seek care, nor do you have the right to participate if they do decide to seek help. The only way around this is if they hurt themselves or someone else. As a parent you know when your child is just plain being a rebellious teen, and when they seriously need help, but unfortunately no one will do anything to help until the situation is completely out of control. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stop that down slide before it got to that point? As parents we should have the right to be proactive.
A disturbed child at fourteen is not likely to seek help, and ask their parents “Hey, I think I have problems, please take me to a psychiatrist” In the meantime, as a parent you have to play amateur physiologist. I understand this is part of raising children, along with being nurse, doctor, chaffer,cook, etc. If your child is truly troubled, and has serious mental disorder, not only can this be frustrating, but also dangerous. You have to watch as their personality slips away, their grades slip away, and their friendships. Not until they hurt someone, get arrested, or worst case attempt suicide before authorities will step in and order help.
When your teen has finally gotten help, voluntary or otherwise, they have their right to privacy. I understand patients need this right. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to discuss my health issues at whim with anyone at all, but remember we are talking young teens and their parents/caregivers. If psychiatric care is given to your teen because it was ordered by court because they have done something severe enough to get arrested, during their care, most places will encourage family involvement. however they can’t force the issue. If the child decides he/she doesn’t want their parents informed about anything, or involved in their care, their rights trump the parent’s. So what happens then when the child comes out of the institution, or specialized home? Again, the parents are left to their own devices. Ironically, the child cannot be given medication without consent of the child, so how does any of this make sense?
You may be asking yourself at this point, how can a fourteen year old child be given these rights which can be harmful to them. You may also be wondering why a parent/caregiver, who is a grown adult have so little control over their child’s mental health. The answer is simple and can be applied to so many different situations. Because of past injustices, and abuse of power by some, common sense has been removed from any decisions, and a blanket right has been implemented. Where across the board everyone has the same exact right, and common sense is not allowed. Over the years instead of providing the freedom that we as Americans have the right to, and soldiers have fought for, somewhere along the line, the use of common sense was over ruled. Not only is this counterproductive, but it should be insulting. Are we all so dim witted that we need the government to make all our decisions for us? Absolutely not, and its time we as parents, and a nation step up to the plate and demand some parental rights in situations where our children need our guidance and professional help the most, before their life is ruined.
These same rights, also allow potentially violent people to remain free from institutions. I do not want to put a stigma on mentally ill people, or make anyone afraid of all mentally ill people out there. There are some people with mental disorders who have a propensity for violent outbursts, and delusions that make them violent. Someone can be involuntarily admitted into a psychiatric care unit if they are deemed harmful to themselves or others. There is a catch though. The longest they can be held is 72 hours. All they have to say is they didn’t mean what they said, they would never hurt anyone or themselves, That they said the threat out of anger, and would never do anything harmful. I have actually witnessed this with my own eyes. The person went on to tell the doctor how all cops should die, and he’d love to kill them all. Instead of waiting for him to change his statement, the doctor actually led him to the right answers by saying, “you didn’t really mean that and would never hurt anyone right?”, well he took his cue and gave the answers that wanted to be heard, and was free to go, to leave the session and go home. This same person eventually got involuntarily committed, and as stated in the hospital report was uncooperative and combative the whole 72 hours. Despite that behavior, at the end of the 72 hours he was allowed to return home.
A more publicized example would be Sylvia Seegrist. Sylvia had many problems functioning in society, but still continued living on her own. She abused her mother on numerous occasions, many times choking her. After being put into the psychiatric ward, typically when her 72 hours were up in the hospital she was then allowed to return to freedom. On October 30, 1985, she took a trip to the mall for the sole purpose of killing. That day she drove up to the mall and opened fire, walking through the entrance firing her weapon. In the end, she killed two men and a two year old child. She wounded seven others. Not only were people’s lives lost that day, and some wounded, but children lost their innocence, and adults lost their feeling of security. Countless lives were affected by the traumatic events that day. Nightmares, anxiety, and numerous other affects overcame the people who witnessed that horrible event.
I am not in any way saying the mentally ill should not have rights, I am saying that these rights need to be re-evaluated, and there needs to be a major overhaul. Parents need to have stronger rights than their children, and need to be allowed to summon help when needed. In the case of adults, the use of common sense needs to be restored, it should not take a suicide attempt or someone getting hurt or killed before a person is committed for a long enough period to get stabilized on medications before they are released.