A day with mental health professionals in North London
December 9, 2009 3:43 AM   Subscribe

Tough job.

The word "section" is a fearful word to most people.

Never a nice word; I wonder why they haven't tried to replace it with something less menacing. Or have they tried?
posted by Phanx at 4:53 AM on December 9, 2009

A friend of mine got sectioned some years back. He was reported for running around in a state of some distress on a major railway junction out the back of his dad's apartment, the upper floor of a terraced house.

When the police and the mental health professionals came to talk to him he barricaded himself upstairs. The stairs themselves had a sharp right angle turn which made it difficult for anyone to get up as a group and especially so as my friend chose to throw the contents of his dad's flat down the stairs - paintings, the television, books etc.

A couple of years ago as my friend was telling me all of this with great gusto I asked his ageing, luvvy dad, a former Shakespearean actor, if he minded that his stuff had been chucked down the stairs, to which he replied,

"Oh not at all, darling. An Englishman's home is his castle. You must defend yourself!"
posted by MuffinMan at 5:22 AM on December 9, 2009 [7 favorites]

Interesting but would have liked a bit more background about the changes in mental health services - there was a point when they're outside Jeremy's house where they say none of the team come to possibly section him have met him before, which seemed sub-optimal, and I was wondering if that was linked to some of the much-criticised changes in welfare services since the 80s.
posted by Abiezer at 7:47 AM on December 9, 2009

An interesting read. I certainly wish that they had pro-active teams like these in my hometown of San Francisco...around here, the protocol is to repeatedly arrest and release the mentally ill (often with court ordered *outpatient* treatment) until they finally flip out and stab a child on a bus / knife a stranger in the back / nearly sever someone's head with a steak knife. These are all incidents that happened within the last year or so.
posted by Wavelet at 12:46 PM on December 9, 2009

Jez: If you try to section me Mark you will have crossed a line and I will section you, so help me...

Doctor: Look guys. You've had your fun with the sectioning. There's going to be no more sectioning today.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:35 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Good post & great article, although quite sad

I was wondering if that was linked to some of the much-criticised changes in welfare services since the 80s.

I dont know much about the changes, except for the phrase "care in the community", which suddenly became a way to close down hospitals & was blamed for allowing a few schizophrenics out to push people under tube trains and the like, but this part points to a more general low prioritisation and underfunding that social/care work seems to get :

With more "creative" community support, they all quietly admit, Jennifer could stay at home. Yet these teams are under huge time pressure, and patients get only an hour or so of domestic attention each week. The smallest fissures in co-operative relationships soon turn into dangerous chasms of unpredictability and risk.
posted by criticalbill at 2:52 PM on December 9, 2009

to me that paragraph seemed to refer to the breakdown in community support and neighborly friendship, something we took for grants a few generations ago but now, in an increasingly isolated world, we are making do without.

although it would be nice if we had the resources to care for all of those suffering mental illnesses on a one on one and intensive basis, we don't. monitoring by professionals with most of the day to day support done by the community is the only rational and reasonable way to treat it. Yes, the system fails, especially, as noted in the story, when the neighbors, friends and family aren't reaching out, but no system is perfect, and, short of massive funding, it's the best most countries have got.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 10:47 PM on December 10, 2009

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