Planning for the future presents serious problems for parents of people with significant disabilities; when those families are dealing with psychotic illnesses, the future is especially frightening.
Organizations have become skillful at lobbying for humane supports for people with most disabilities. However, for people impacted by the most severe mental illnesses, the future is in the wrong hands.
To understand the problem, look at the taxpayer-funded Alternatives conference being held this week in Austin, Texas. Anyone assuming that this large, annual mental health event is designed to help people with the most severe mental illnesses just needs to study the program carefully.
While its theme promotes “Valuing Every Voice,” try to locate what the conference offers for people with psychotic disorders. Actually, you won’t find the words “psychosis,” “bipolar disorder,” “schizophrenia,” or even “mental illnesses” in the program, since this kind of labeling is considered to be the problem.
Not only will you not find references to the most severe illnesses, you won’t find sessions on the issues that are most important to the well-being of this population. There is certainly nothing about improving the public education campaigns about mental illnesses so that people can receive appropriate help earlier. Nor is there anything about advocating for cognitive remediation programs, even though it is usually these problems that lead to disabilities for people with schizophrenia. Similarly, there is nothing about the educational supports and accommodations available for people with diagnosed disorders.