Welcome to my letter F poost in the #AtoZChallenge on mental health. I hope you are enjoying and learning from the challenge so far. For this post, I have a few new words for you.
No, I don’t mean to discuss how mental illness impacts one’s relationship with food, though it can often change ot “It’s complicated”. I want to discuss institution food. Yes, it is as bad as you thought it’d be. We used to be able to pick something that wasn’t too bad off the menu, but now that we get the food in bulk, the nurses decide what everyone will eat. It’s so bad that if you’re a vegetarian new to the unit, you may need to wait a week or two before you get your veggie burger. I don’t know whether the same is true if you have a food intolerance.
I’ve discussed words that relate to this one, such as control and dependence. Force can only be used on people who are invooluntarily committed to the hospital or in emergency situations. For example, if someone is attacking a nurse, they don’t need to wait to get the patient sectioned before using solitary confinement or rapid tranquilization. Though force cannot be used unless a patient has been involuntarily committed or there’s an emergency, coercion can be used pretty much whenever the staff see fit. In 2008, when I was on the locked unit, I was threatened with a section or forced discharge if I didn’t consent to solitary confinement.
Until the early 1990s, the only forensic psychiatric units that existed in the Netherladns were either state hospitals or specific prison units. A person can’t be sent to a state hospital on a forensic section unless they’ve committed a violent or sexual crime. In fact, until a few years ago, people who had merely threatened violence could only be sent to a state hospital for four years at most.
Now, many regular mental institutions have forensic units. These are used as a step down from a state hospital for people who are ready for resocialization or for people convicted of less serious crimes. Forensic psychiatric units also serve people who are at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.