Are doctors still discriminating?

This is the third in the series of mentally ill people visiting doctor stories.

So it’s not surprising that people with a serious mental illness are loath to seek medical attention even when they need it. As a result, many of them end up in emergency rooms where doctors, confronted with an endless stream of drug addicts who come for an easy fix, are often too willing to equate mental illness with drug-seeking behavior and refuse to prescribe pain medication.

Once, someone that I knew, lay there for hours, waiting for the pain relievers to kick in but the headache persisted. His psycho-pharmacologist said later; “Welcome to being bipolar. They gave you saline and electrolytes.” When his symptoms became worse, including numbness and muscle weakness, the same doctor accused him of being a serious cocaine user. If he’d had a relative or friend with him on that occasion, it might have helped.

Because medical practitioners are often in the front line when helping people with mental health problems and mental disorders it is crucial that their assistance is NOT hampered by prejudiced attitudes or by lack of knowledge and skills with regard to the nature of mental illness. Of course there are doctors who strive to provide good service. I do remember that nobody is perfect, but …


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