Please read the below especially if you’re someone who has had problems accessing mental health services due to another disability or knows someone who does. And if you’re someone as passionate as I am about finding long term solutions to what truly is a crisis. And in the short term doing everything we can to find people, like my friend, the care they deserve.
Update: Sadly the temporary solution of moving her to a deaf centered mental illness group home did not work due to their inability to address her physical health concerns. She was re-hospitalized and the decission was made to send her to the deaf/hoh unit at the state hospital. I’m hoping this isn’t the end of this intelligent, loving, and vibrant woman’s life in the outside world. This should not have happened!
My friend has been hospitalized at an inpatient psychiatric facility since the beginning of this month. She was discharged from her former facility. I asked the clinical director there why over at least a dozen facilities in the area would not take her. Would not even come interview her at the hospital to see about her needs. I thought it was a combination of her having a medical condition in addition to psychiatric illness. But he said what I was afraid deep down I’d hear,”It’s because she’s deaf.”
Right away I said well that shouldn’t be a problem. There are solutions to this. He went on to say that actually in IL there are a lot of things going on that work at odds with each other and with people getting what they need.
First of all the health department could come into any facility that has someone with additional disabilities to mental illness. And they could comde in and see that the facility wasn’t up to standards for a facility that works with whatever disability. The staff could say they have developed solutions to whatever additional needs the person might have. The person could say one hundred percent they’re happy. Well the facility would then still get a violation against them for not being disability compliant or whatever.
On the other hand, there’s nothing saying by law you need to have these accomidations in place. For example, these facilities by law don’t need to have live interpreters. So this way a facility could say oh we don’t have any. And no one could fault them for that. They could fault them for taking the person anyway and making their own solutions even if the person is happy! It’s an ass backwards twisted system.
And there doesn’t seem to be a third party here. A group of people to really educate all these places about how you can work with disabilities and mental illness and it really won’t be expensive or unworkable. These people could establish what’s needed at least an initial foundation so that the person and facility have some common ground. Likewise they could talk with these health department officials and say that in the absence of being able to have everything technically up to official standards people have to make their own home made solutions. If it works for everyone why punish them. The people who should get warnings or whatever are the places that will reject someone without even meeting them without even considering it for more than a few minutes. Knowing full well that person has nowhere to go.
I love the clinical director of her former facility. Just because she isn’t coming back doesn’t mean he’s turning his back on her. He is trying as hard as anyone. This is clearly a systemic problem and likely something that all people with disabilities and mental illness face.
The only solution I see is some kind of as I said mediating party that can both educate places around how accomidations can be done as well as calm the health department down. Without this you have these two opposing sides and no middle ground and just a confusing mess. And really it’s just leaving these places wide open to say oh well we don’t have to provide this so that’s it. We don’t have to provide accomidations, and if we try but it’s not up to par we could get violated.
That this could override looking at a person who clearly needs these services and pushing them away is absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating.
I asked about a task force in IL for the deaf with mental illness. as I mentioned above but there appears to be none.
I wonder about other states and their policies around this. I plan to explore more. Please share this with friends, family, co-workers, anyone in the fields of human services, disability rights, and mental health. Feel free to contact me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org