eastern mentWarning Signs: Treating mental illness in East TN

You have to fight and fight and fight for your rights, she explained.

Right now the law is, unless you are a danger to yourself or others you cant force people to take medicine or go into a hospital, unless they meet that commitment criteria, explained Mental Health Commissioner for Tennessee, Doug Varney.

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After twenty years of caring for her son, Andy, who has bipolar disorder and Aspergers Syndrome,Derthick found help at a group home, but it wasnt easy.

In Tennessee, loved ones can not put an unwilling adult with a mental illness into inpatient or outpatient treatment unless the person is a danger to themselves or others.

However, mental health care has come a long way. In the old days, all we did was warehouse people with mental illness like at Lakeshore. In its heyday there were 3,500 to 4,000 patients on a daily basis, said Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association on East Tennessee.

This criteria can oftenput restrictions on milies. Many with a mental illness dont see they have an issue. So, getting voluntary help can be tough.

Right now, there are state-run hospitals, like Lakeshore. There are also other places to find help like at Helen Ross McNabb which provides out-patient mental health care services. Aneastern mentWarning Signs: Treating mental illness in East TNother place to find help is at K-Town Youth Empowerment Network. They are a combination of a host of services in the Knoxville area that can provide information and empower milies who have a loved one with a mental illness.

An issue in Tennessee is always going to be about access to care, how can you get in to treatment in eastern mental healtha timely manner and is that directed to payer source? explained Harrington.

In the end, though, if an adult has no insurance or is unwilling to go, they can not be forced to get help.

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Before her son turned 18, she had him sign his rights over to her that way she could help him get help. Without that medical directive, once he became an adult Derthick wouldnt be able todirect his care. I didnt want to die knowing my son would live under a bridge, she explained.

Diane Derthick was lucky, We were able to put him (her son) in a group home that was bulous for him. They accept him for who he is.

eastern mentWarning Signs: Treating mental illness in East TN,Many things canstand in the way of people with a mental illness getting the help they need. Whether its insurance, state laws, or access, someEast Tennesseans struggle to get answers.

Thursday, we will lookat proposed changes in state mental health law.

When you have this kind of mental illness, you are very often not in a position to make these kinds of decisions about your mental illness. It interferes with your ability to make good decisions, said Brian Stettin with the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, VA.

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We continue with our series covering mental health in East Tennessee by taking a closer look at what help is available for those with a mental illness. While help is out there, it is not always that easy for milies to obtain.

He said that is the way things wereuntil the 1970s. Then medical thinking changed. People didnt need to be hospitalized. They could get help with medicines and support groups, but in 2011 there are still roadblocks. One of the biggest problems now is coming up with funding to pay for even the st help.

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