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Recovery Model: Mental Health Recovery Model Applied to Severely Mentally Ill; JH Rick Massimino MD

Entitlement Benefits Abuse

How do receipt of entitlement benefits (disability checks, health insurance, etc,) contribute to the wellness or illness of an individual with serious mental illness?

How often do we hear or see a seriously mentally ill individual say “that is my money and I can spend it anyway I want”. “That money” is the tax payer supported disability check which is provided because of the individual’s mental illness resulting in the need for medical treatment and the disabled person’s inability to work. One logically assumes that a person receiving a medical disability package of entitlement benefits (money, health-care, etc.) would be responsibly participating in their treatment. In our current public mental health care system, patients are allowed to refuse psychiatric treatment resulting in repeat hospitalizations, worsening of health conditions (smoking while with lung disease, eating candy while diabetic, indulging in drug abuse, etc) causing enormous tax payer costs in health care while continuing to receive their entitlement benefits.

This abusive behavior by both the patient and the public mental health care system is counter therapeutic, contributes to fiscal irresponsibility, denies true treatment opportunities for the most impaired, and is bankrupting our social safety net. This abuse of entitlement benefits changes only when a patient is arrested, imprisoned, or confined to long term hospital care. Unfortunately, the change after an arrest and confinement is merely a shift in the costs from one agency to another agency. The poor care, right to refuse treatment, illogical thinking and fiscal negligence persists in the confined settings, which one can only describe as morally reprehensible.