Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Anthony Hill was as much a victim of a broken healthcare system as a militarized police force

From Justin Brown's piece "At the Intersection Between Black Pride and Mad Pride," from Mad In America:
Much has been made of Anthony Hill “going off his meds.” We hear ad nauseum, from the Treatment Advocacy Center and other proponents of involuntary outpatient coercion, that those of us who go off our meds suffer from “anosognosia” (i.e. the inability to recognize that we are mentally ill). However, the facts of Anthony Hill’s murder tell a very different story. After fighting in Afghanistan, Anthony Hill was medically discharged in April 2013 with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. There is no evidence that Anthony Hill rejected his mental illness label or the treatment that came with it. To the contrary, Anthony Hill’s girlfriend Bridgette Anderson — who along with Rise Up Georgia organized the courthouse vigil — describes Anthony as waiting for as long as five hours on the phone waiting to get a mental health appointment with the Veterans Administration. She describes Anthony showing up for his mental health appointment in Georgia only to discover that it had been mistakenly scheduled by the VA thousands of miles away in Texas. The stark reality is that if Anthony Hill had not stopped taking Lamictal — as his tongue began to swell five days before his death — he might well have been dead long before the police shot him. That death would have been equally horrific but would not have made headlines. Lack of access to mental health care — not rejection of the mental illness label — was killing Anthony Hill even before the overt racism of a militarized police force shot him down in the parking lot.
Mad In America has the reputation for being anti-psychiatry, but there are numerous important points about public health care, mental illlness, poverty, and race raised in this piece.