What About the Patient?




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Our mental health care system fails to serve the very people whose suffering that system ostensibly exists to alleviate. This article relates the stories of 3 people who fell through the cracks of this system. An alternative approach, the Integrated Services Agency (ISA), has been implemented in California and offers hope to persons with schizophrenia. The ISA approach focuses on the expressed needs of the members it exists to serve, and both members and staff have experienced changes in their roles and expectations. Staff and members have learned that engagement with the "outside world" involves taking risks but that risk avoidance only perpetuates the status quo. The ISA approach rewards growth and patients’ being well rather than rewarding docility and illness. Medication is neither ordered nor assigned, but chosen in a collaboration between staff and members. ISAs have returned care to the mental health care system.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 3):38-41