Why I created this series:
Every psychiatrist has their own style, but I’ve always been interested in asking patients more open-ended questions if I think it will provide me with a greater understanding of who they are as unique individuals. Unfortunately, I believe that the art of psychiatry has dwindled down to a checklist which subsequently churns out a diagnosis and treatment plan based on the minimum criteria needed to properly meet billing requirements. Such a practice may lead to a lack of connection in the therapeutic relationship, therefore, I sought to create a series that explores the unspoken thoughts that a person may have when meeting with a psychiatrist. If you would like to contribute to future questions in this series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on Snapchat (freudandfashion).
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
How do you think medical doctors treat patients with mental illness differently than those without mental illness?
I didn’t really notice much of a difference in the way medical doctors treated me with a mental illness, until I had to get surgery on my wrist. My surgeon went on extensively that I was at a higher risk for abusing the pain medication post surgery. I had to go to lengths to prove to him that I would be able to minimize this risk, and wean myself off the pain medication as soon as possible. After this experience, I wondered if a patient without mental illness would have gone through as much scrutiny.
~ Logan, pre-med student
Doctors treat patients with mental illness differently than those without a mental illness. From experience, doctors treat people with mental illness like they are stupid, incompetent, and incapable of doing anything for themselves. They get treated with less respect as well.
~ Allyson, student
It depends on how much the doctors actually know about mental illnesses. The majority, unfortunately somehow equate people with mental illnesses as mentally challenged individuals. Most doctors know, before they even meet you, that you have a mental illness due to the fact that the doctors generally see what kind of medications you are currently on prior to walking into the examination room.
I literally have had some very rude doctors that would be new to me and upon opening the door, they don’t say hello…my name is…or anything. They will have their nose in the charts or x-rays and then don’t look you in the eye and tell you what they recommend and then just walk out. It really pisses me off when they act so arrogantly. I generally never do return back to see a doctor who treats me like that. Then there are those that seem a bit nervous about meeting me; however, once I start talking like the college-educated woman that I am, they seem impressed and/or astonished that a person with a mental illness could have such insight.
So it angers me and depresses me that most doctors will tag a “stupid idiot” label on someone who is taking psychotrophic medications or acts as though nothing I say is true for I might be having delusions…yet, with each new doctor I encounter, I hope to go away feeling satisfied that I for one don’t meet the stereotype that our society has created for people with mental illnesses.
My family medicine doc never follows up on anything, ever. I have to remind them of everything so if I don’t bring it up, it never gets addressed. And when I try to bring it up, they look at me like I’m crazy. I guess it’s a good thing that I’m smart, knowledgeable and know a lot, but I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who don’t know anything. I just finished reading Black Men, White Coats and that book is really honest. I see it happen all of the time. I think patients are disregarded in all aspects and I think with African Americans, they treat us differently when it comes to mental health. But i don’t want to pull the race card, this is my perception of what i see.
~ Sherita, pre-med student
Personally, sometimes I think some people don’t consider mental health as important as physical health. Maybe that’s why some doctors do not pay attention to this point.
~ Anonymous, student
If you have any thoughts or experiences pertaining to the question, please comment below!