Social Workers

It really does take a social worker not to realize you need a thermos.

One thought on “Social Workers”

  1. Hey, cut the social workers some slack! As a young civilian psychiatrist-in-training way back in Southern California in the early/mid-1970s, I had to work with a myriad of eager-to-help VERY youthful social workers whose hearts were in the right place, but who had vastly less training, vastly less experience with mentally ill patients, and vastly less knowledge in how such patients needed to be dealt with and managed than those of us with genuine medical degrees did. This wouldn’t have been a problem if the relevant state laws has been allowed to check their inexperience and keep it at bay.

    The standing law in effect at the time said that persons with minor authority within the mental health chain (social workers, even less-trained “social therapists,” and even police officers — who had absolutely no mental-health training at all — could sign documents requiring suspicious persons to be brought to the country hospital , where they would be evaluated in the ER by psychiatrists like me, and we would determine if those patients warranted temporary involuntary admission for a maximum of 72 hours, or could be managed with outpatient care. (They could also be discharged before 72 hours, or if considered severe, transferred to a State Psychiatric Hospital for two-week evaluation before facing a judge.) This perfectly legal system worked quite well.

    But for about an 18-month period, anarchy struck when the UTTERLY INCOMPETENT Medical Supervisor of XXXXX Country Mental Health Services abruptly made a totally ILLEGAL decision, and nobody with proper authority spoke up to oppose his decision.

    Under the new rules, EVERY “evaluation document” signed by EVERY social worker and EVERY eighteen-year-old “social therapist” and even EVERY COP became a mandatory admission ticket giving the psychiatrists no say at all, and it was made clear that we were expected to keep the patients hospitalized a full 72 hours with no early discharges. Those of us who discharged healthy patients “inappropriately early” (say the next afternoon after admission) were given grief for our decision.

    I escaped that madness by transferring from the County to the State Psychiatric State Hospital System (which dealt with criminally deranged patients assigned by the California Superior Court) where the admissions and discharges were rigidly controlled. With each of my patients there, I went to Court every six months and gave the judge one of three recommendations: “Release the patient; he’s no longer a threat to society,” “Keep him in hospital; he’s responding to treatment,” or “Take him back to prison; he’s still a dangerous threat, and is not going to improve with state hospital treatment.”

    Listen, you think your’re dealing with nutcases and psychos in academia today — and you’re absolutely correct. But at least you aren’t fighting the mismanagement of violent schizophrenics and chronic child molesters whose control is much more essential than whether some student has been traumatized by some professor’s insensitive speech.

    (So how did California finally solve its massive incarceration of severely mentally ill patients? The same way that New York did — by dumping them those onto to streets and saying, “Hey, Jack, congratulations, you’re FREE — you’re on you own!”)


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