Privacy in Health Care – Not Always Good for All

Privacy in Health Care – Not Always Good for All

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While the support of friends and family is especially important, resources and explanations are pivotal in navigating through the mental health maze. I thought it best to share with you what I’ve learned along the way in hopes of easing your journey.

Let’s begin.

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and its function is to provide data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. This is great, because we all want our medical information secure, right? Right!   

This Act was passed in 1996 and has served many of us well. However, there is a great need to have this Act revised to meet the needs of individuals with serious mentally illnesses. I believe that when my son is at his most vulnerable, when he is the most ill, the regulations have made it very difficult for me and my family to keep our son safe.

Tip one: Although medical professionals (psychiatrists, therapists, inpatient facilities…) can’t share information about my son’s illness, they have been known to welcome information I share with them by email, phone, or fax. Yes, it does seem as though I am sending this information into a black hole, but I have been told countless times that medical history and personal observations of behavior are helpful is assessing my son’s condition and determining his treatment.

Tip two: Do not expend energy being angry at medical professionals because they will not release information relating to your ill relative. They are bound by the regulations of HIPAA and they will not budge. My advice to family members is use their energy in self-care. The opportunity to be of help to your loved-one will manifest and you can be rested to meet the challenge.

Tip three: Become involved in your NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) public policy committee and identify legislation to change HIPAA regulations. If we don’t work for change, nothing changes.

From the desk of Ramona Winner, Family Advocate MWC

The Long & Winding Recovery Road

A place for support, intelligence, resources and recovery

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“Comparison is the thief of joy”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Recovery is a tricky word. A definition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says recovery is:

“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

I like this one because it’s focused on the individual reaching personal potential. When we compare one person’s recovery to another we are not seeing things as they really are. We are robbing ourselves and our loved ones of joy. 

Let’s suppose I broke my leg. I would seek treatment immediately, get an x-ray, get casted, follow my Dr.s follow-up instructions and very likely I would be as good as new in 6-8 weeks. As long as I had no complications it would be straightforward, like many other healthy adults, I would fully recover from this acute injury.

And yet many health issues are chronic like multiple sclerosis or diabetes. Often it’s a bumpy long and winding road fraught with many “flare ups” or active symptoms and hospitalizations in order to re-stabilize and “recover”. It’s time to see mental health disorders in this way. These illnesses are also chronic, often lifelong, incurable health problems. They are treatable, manageable and people can and do remain symptom free for many years. Leading productive very successful lives just like MS or diabetes.

When we expect a chronic incurable illness to be a straight linear road to recovery we will often be disappointed, we can harshly judge ourselves or others too. All because we lack the knowledge of what recovery means and how to achieve recovery.

For mental health diagnoses rather that a straight road to recovery, we may see many on and off ramps, u-turns, rest stops, fender benders and wrong turns before we see a smooth ride. The most important thing is to keep trying to find the route to your recovery.

Never stop trying to find your way,

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