Too often in the name of treatment compliance the mental health system fractures the family into groups with competing interests. Family members are told that they need to get consumers to buy into a treatment plan they may or may not agree with or believe in for their own good. If you go to a NAMI group you quickly find out that the “caregivers” go in one room while the “consumers” go in the other. “Caregivers” are told that much of care is in getting “their consumers” to follow directions and be compliant with a treatment regimen they have been given regardless of the consumers feelings or thoughts about what they want to do or what they percieve is in their best interest. The result is often an ongoing power struggle. Families are left to comfort themselves that it is all an expression of “their consumers” illness.
Treatment compliance is defined as the same thing as recovery…. sadly so for many people. A cycle of anger, resentment, and payback too easily becomes te description of how the family interacts. The consumer becomes what the family is sentenced to put up with. The family is what the consumer is sentenced to put up with.
Some families do get past this. They realize that they are all in life together. They support the choices each other makes and support them learning the tools and knowledge to make good choices. The treat hope as a real thing. They know that everyone is more than the difficulties they struggle with and that families are defined not by the presence of pain and suffering, but how they deal with that pain and suffering.
They know that all have been traumatized in some way and that finding better life is about healing. They know that healing is not about what they make each other do, but in what they help enable each other to become able to do.
They know that the mental health system has a dark side and they are not willing to abandon their families to the expertise of anyone who says they know better than they. They know in the end that knowledge is essential for good decisions, but it doesnt substitute or replace family care and commitment.
Healing is about community and family can the most powerful community. But not often enough…