We Deserve a Say in the Quality of Our Mental Health Care
“The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored. The disparity in access to mental health care in communities of color cannot be ignored. The inequality and lack of cultural competency in mental health treatment cannot be ignored.”
This is an excerpt from a statement by NAMI’s CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. regarding recent racist incidents across the country and their impact on mental health.
As we spend this time reflecting, listening, learning and renewing our commitment to our values, we will continue our advocacy with our nation’s leaders.
NAMI fights for all individuals to be treated with respect and dignity when they receive mental health care—regardless where they receive services, like at peer drop-in centers, a therapist’s office or a residential clinic.
And sometimes people need inpatient psychiatric care. But, unfortunately not everybody gets quality treatment. Here is one example:
“I’d never been to a [psychiatric facility] until a friend took me in. I could hear people screaming on other floors. It was frightening…I wasn’t talking, so my friend talked for me. The woman doing the intake told my friend, ‘I’m not the one who does the formal diagnosis, but I’ve seen a lot of these people, and I can tell you right now that in my opinion she is a schizo.’ She was acting like I was not in the room, like I couldn’t understand what was happening. Everything about that place made me want to escape.”
To create change, our leaders need to understand what is not working.
The federal government has quality measures for all types of care, including in psychiatric hospitals. But, unlike other types of inpatient treatment, the government’s measure of quality of care in psychiatric hospitals does not include a patient satisfaction survey.
If you go into the hospital for other types of care, like heart surgery or cancer treatments, you would be asked questions like:
- How often did doctors listen carefully to you?
- Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?
- How often did doctors treat you with courtesy and respect?
Psychiatric hospitals should be required to ask questions like these, but the federal government does not require it. To not be given the chance – and respect – to share our experiences of care is unacceptable discrimination against people with mental illness.
Our community will no longer be silenced. Raise your voice and tell the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)* that people with mental health conditions deserve to share their experience of care in inpatient psychiatric hospitals.
We have provided template comments here. Please write a few words in the editable space about why you think psychiatric hospitals should have patient satisfaction surveys.