Janet Hays, founder of Healing Minds NOLA, is a formidable advocate for those who suffer from severe mental illness in New Orleans and across the country. She works tirelessly to bring those afflicted with mental illness, their families, and other stakeholders together to find a path to more productive and humane treatments of mental illness.
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Janet Hays has been instrumental in New Orleans in shining a spotlight on the mismanaged mental health care system for more than six years. Having witnessed the inadequacies of mental health care in the United States, Hays has made it her life’s work to advocate for better ways to care for the mentally ill. Her vision includes residential treatment communities, assisted outpatient treatment, and even clubhouses to provide a venue for the mentally ill to reconnect to the community and make new friends.
One of the issues that impedes medical treatment is anosognosia, a medical condition that impairs the ability of the individual recognize that they suffer from mental illness. They are unaware of their mental health condition, or they do not understand it correctly. The perception of their mental health can shift back and forth over time which adds to the belief that the person is denying the condition to avoid seeking treatment.
One of the proposed plans for the treatment of mental illness is AOT, a community-based program of providing mental health treatment under civil court commitment. One of the objectives of the AOT program is to unite and encourage the mental health system in taking responsibility for collecting the necessary evidence of mental illness and prepare a petition for AOT to present to the court so the individual can receive the treatment they need.
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