The Unethical Treatment of Psychiatric Patients
Repository Posting Date2015-01-15T13:35:22Z
Author(s)Sullivan, Brittany L
Author DetailsBrittany L Sullivan, BCSN
Lead Author Sigma AffliationNon-Member
Session presented on Thursday, September 25, 2014: The healthcare system aims to provide appropriate support and treatment to enhance the quality of a persons emotional and psychological health. However, the United States has not fulfilled this aim when providing patient centered care to people with mental illnesses, and consequently, they have unmet needs for healthcare. Annually, approximately 30% of people, will be diagnosed with a mental illness. A national report card of the United States, observing each states service to psychiatric patients, revealed that treatment for psychiatric patients is not at an optimal level. One category in this report observed how each state promotes healthy living. Based on the A-F letter grade system, A being the best and F being the worse, 70% of the states in America scored an F or a D, reflecting poor efforts for the wellness and survival for people with mental illness. In comparison to other populations, mental health patients receive, not only inadequate mental health treatment, but also inadequate treatment for physical diseases. People with mental disorders are more likely to die prematurely of cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases more than any other population. Therefore, the healthcare system is in violation of the ethical principles of respect, beneficence, and justice, in the care delivered to those with a mental illness. The government and the World Health Organization are implementing changes to improve this care. Although there are limited evidence based changes, there have been several initiatives from the United States government and researchers to improve the quality of care for patients with mental illnesses, such as: providing mental health services to all patients when services are inaccessible or unavailable and bringing awareness and knowledge of mental health and the causes of mental illnesses. Both of these areas have been recognized as having contributed to psychiatric patients being a lower priority to policy makers and the healthcare team. Recommendations: Increasing awareness and education of professionals who care for those with mental disorders is one step to improving the overall health and healthcare delivery to psychiatric patients. Additionally, if each healthcare facility undergoes ongoing surveillance to ensure the proper treatment of psychiatric patients, as evidenced by positive and inclusive attitudes and language from the healthcare personnel, then that can also aid in improving the healthcare setting for these patients. Conclusion: It is very important that healthcare professionals address the unethical delivery of care experienced by the mental health population. The negative stigma attached to mentally ill individuals compromises their medical treatment, increasing the morbidity rate. Mental health patients receive little treatment, no treatment, or bad treatment, which violates the ethical principles of justice, respect, beneficence, and autonomy. Overall, even with limited evidence based research to incorporate into treatment for this population, the government, researchers and the World Health Organization (WHO) have made initiatives to make the healthcare setting more inclusive of all patients and aim to promote an atmosphere of respect, beneficence and justice.