Earlier this week, I wrote a post about my nephew who suffers from schizophrenia and how hard it has been to help him get help. It was pretty raw and full of frustration and worry. It turned out to be kind of useful. Though law enforcement has public records of that sort of stuff, the medical information is top secret. There isn't a file or summary of both things in one spot to help others have a clear "big picture" of the situation.
Several of my blog friends left supporting comments on that post, and I did feel better getting things off of my chest and reaching out for help. My friend Wendy emailed me with a helpful idea about two family members getting co-guardianship over my nephew, and how that works. I'm not sure that we can do that in Oregon, but I am looking into it.
I was telling a friend at work about the situation, and he and his wife put my nephew on their prayer chain at their church. I kept asking myself, is there more that I can do?
Yesterday, I got the idea to send the link to that post to the agencies who have dealt with my nephew or with others like him. I sent an email with the blog link, asking folks for assistance at the Lane County Sheriff's Office, The Eugene Police Department and to Lane County Behavioral Health Services (LCBHS). I printed out the post and faxed a copy to the Oregon State Hospital. I still have a few more people to contact. I talked to a very nice man named Mark at Whitebird Clinic in Eugene, who gave me some good ideas.
I was so happy to hear back within a couple of hours from the head of LCBHS. He suggested that if two people in our family could make the case that my nephew is a danger to himself or others, then we could call their commitment investigators and make arrangements for to file a "petition for mental illness". If there is enough adequate evidence, we can get a civil commitment hearing. So, that is on the agenda for today.
There is such a stigma regarding mental illness, and not many want to talk about it. If my nephew needed a heart transplant, it wouldn't be a big secret. I would be asking for prayers and telling others of the need. That is actually what I did on my post of the other day, but I feel as if I have broken confidentiality. Still, we really need the help, and I know that there are many other families out there who also need information about the same issues.
In the 1970's, the State of Oregon dramatically downsized the number of mentally ill folks that they would help, and put them out on the streets. It is great that in many cases they can receive Social Security Disability payments, but other than that they are on their own. Decades later, there is not enough funding, nor are there very many halfway houses to serve those in need. People fall through the cracks daily, and it is a sad situation. When you have people who are having a hard time thinking clearly due to mental disease, and don't allow their family or friends to easily get them help, you end up with a big mess.
It is a hard system to navigate, and as Mark at Whitebird told me, there is no one person or agency who can help. Though, I am hoping now that LCBHS will be a great place to start.
Please keep S. in your prayers. We need to get him to the doctor for starters. I am believing that he will be helped. Thanks so much!
~ Kathy M.
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