Spot diagnosis

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Spot Diagnosis
Psychiatrists and Psychologists around the world are
entrusted with the minds of millions of people who are in a less
than perfect mental state. What is it exactly that we expect
from these professionals when we send our loved ones into their
offices? I am not sure what I expected from them, but I know
that I put all my faith and trust in the hands of these capable
professionals and felt less than faithful about their
professionalism and quality of care.

A few months ago, I took my mother to St. Peter’s Hospital,
due to her suicidal expressions. I felt helpless as my mother
deteriorated each day, and knew I could not make her better by
myself. We arrived at the hospital emergency room and waited an
hour to see a crisis counselor, this person asked to speak to her
alone for about 20 minutes. After this period I was told my
mother was suffering from minor depression. I asked that she be
retained in the hospital against her will if needed be, because
of her suicidal threats and strange behavior. He then told me
that she could not held involuntarily, but if she volunteered
then she could stay. Because I felt she definitely needed help,
I was forced to try to convince her to volunteer. She admitted
to the counselor that she wanted to die, and I felt this was
reason enough to detain her. I left the hospital that night only
to have my mother call me in the morning at 8:00 am to be picked
up. She had not seen, been treated by, nor diagnosed by a
professional Psychiatrist. I was left with the responsibility of
supervising her and ensuring she did not harm herself.

Three weeks later my girlfriend who lost a baby a year ago,
decided that she would eat every pill I had in the house in the
hopes of “never waking up.” As it was after midnight, I had no
choice but to take her to the same hospital. My girlfriend
exhibited the same behavior as my mother, and she was detained
for 72 hours in the mental health wing of St. Peter’s Hospital.
The following morning she spoke with a Psychiatrist for 25
minutes, he then diagnosed her with Bipolar Syndrome and
prescribed her Paxel. She spoke with the same doctor 2 days
later for about five minutes and was released the following day.

How is it that a Psychiatrist can “eyeball” a patient for 25
minutes and diagnose her with a serious mental illness,
consequently prescribing her a powerful anti-depressant? Have
our professionals become so knowledgeable that 25 minutes is all
they need? How is that a person can express their desire to
commit suicide to the doctor and be walking out of the hospital
within 12 hours? What was the criteria for which my girlfriend
had to meet in order to be released? What is the criteria for
when a hospital should detain a patient who has either tried to
commit suicide or made suicidal threats?
Although there may be some serious questions as to how
Mental Health Professionals are handling our loved ones, there
also exists an ongoing problem of too few doctor for too many
patients. There may be a need for Federal funding of mental
health establishments throughout the country in order to get the
number of doctors out there that are needed, so that an adequate
length of time may be spent on each patient. There may also be a
need for a checks and balances system so as to ensure that these
doctors are not “spot diagnosing” their patients.
Over the last hundred years the science of Psychology has
made great bounds of progress and knowledge, but what good does
it make if we are not spending a reasonable amount of time using
that knowledge on mental health patients?

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