Help Alaska’s mental health patients

The chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee, Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, on March 3 wrote, “We are looking into outcome measures for all of Behavioral Health.” As mental health patient advocates, we agree with the committee’s goal.

Millions are spent by the state determining the number of moose, fish and birds, but the state has made an intentional effort not to determine the number of psychiatric patients with a severe mental illness and number and type of complaints filed by patients in institutions and clinics; in our opinion, for fear if the state acknowledges the statistics the state would have to spend money and make improvements in care, safety and oversight.

Disabled psychiatric patients cannot readily file a formal complaint with the state — patient complaints go through the filter of hospital employees — physical or sexual assault complaints or medication errors may just as easily be written up as “patient unhappy with staff.”

Alaska can only make improvements in quality of disabled psychiatric patient care if the state and the Legislature have a clear understanding of the number of disabled psychiatric patients and the number and type of patient complaints.

Faith Myers

Dorrance Collins

Anchorage

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