SMI – Serious Mental Illness
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which defines SMI (Serious Mental Illness) as:
- A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders);
- Diagnosable currently or within the past year;
- Of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV); and,
- Resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
So, what does this have to do with David?
David came to us when he was 18 months old. We became his parents, legally, 6 months later. In truth, since he was just months old, he has been a part of our lives. Mom had a home daycare. And we filled in as needed for his foster family‘s day care provider.
David is 15 now, in the blink of an eye, he will be 21 years old. What happens to his care then?
This is the tragedy of adulthood for someone with a Serious Mental Illness. Without the appropriate diagnosis, all care basically ends, regardless of what his actual needs are. Unless two conditions are met.
- Appropriate diagnosis. – something like Schizoeffective Disorder. Each diagnosis that David has currently isn’t enough by themselves to get him continued care after he reaches 21. Together they aren’t enough. He has to have the right diagnosis.
- Jail/Prison. He can receive mental health care that he needs, in prison.
111What kind of life is that? With basic care, staff and supports, there is, I believe, a huge potential for him to lead a productive life.
Now, I caution my readers, his productive life isn’t going to be the same as yours or mine. For him, it might be as simple as getting out of bed each day and playing video games. But if that keeps him and others safe, that’s okay. It could be that he does something else. The key here is safety and out of prison.
So again, how does this help him? How does this help any adult who struggle with Serious Mental Illness?