PUFF Not Enough
In reading the letter from Mr. Mowrer about the Psychiatric Health Facility, I couldn’t agree more with his comments.
I have been familiar with the unit. Several friends and acquaintances have been patients of the facility. It is absolutely incomprehensible that a city and a county the size of Santa Barbara does not have the proper resources to care and intervene with mental illness crises. Not only is the capacity inadequate but also the length of the services provided are so short that a positive outcome is extremely unlikely.
For three years I was a volunteer bringing a 12 Step Program into the Santa Barbara county jail. Many of the inmates would have benefited far more from psychiatric treatment than criminal punishment.
One of the inmates that I personally tried to help, ironically a Marriage and Family Therapy Counselor from New York, ended his life by jumping from Stearns Wharf. He had been placed in jail many times for petty crimes that he committed due to his mental illness.
Crimes like stealing a pair of socks from Big Five or a sanitizer bottle from a bank. He was on probation for other similar crimes.
He was only admitted once to the PUFF, for three days. Totally inadequate treatment for somebody with his mental disorder. There was no case manager designated nor any other follow up.
Many mental patients suffer from severe social anxiety and are unable to function in society. They commit petty theft, so they are placed in jail, where the social pressures are far less than having to integrate into society. In jail food and clothing are provided. There is a rigid structure and discipline. These factors reduce their anxiety.
Santa Barbara claims to be advanced in so many areas such as medical, environmental, culture, education but when it comes to public psychiatric care, we are, at best, in the middle ages.