Archive for mental health

The Treatment of Mentally Ill People in Washington Prisons

Washington state, like many other states in the US, has a serious mental health crisis. Prisoners who should be given an assessment of their competency are instead left to languish in prison for months on end. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case, though the most notable ones are the fact that mental health facilities are woefully underfunded, as well as mismanagement by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services over several years.

Despite this problem has been going on for a long time in Washington’s prisons, it is not something that’s only just now been discovered. In fact, back in 2014, a lawsuit was filed – Trueblood v. DSHS – where it was argued that the long wait times violated the constitutionally guaranteed due process rights. This case lasted until 2018 when a settlement agreement was reached.

The agreement required that the state get anyone who may be deemed as legally incompetent to stand trial an evaluation within 14 days. If deemed unfit by this evaluation, they would be given restorative services meant to help them get the services they need within seven days after the assessment is complete. If they fail, fines will be imposed, which can come in the form of money put into mental health services and compensatory damages. Despite this settlement, approximately only half of those eligible get assessed on time.

These wait times can create two common outcomes: people don’t get their necessary due process, or judges dismiss the case. While not everyone who is in need of evaluation is dangerous, enough of them that it becomes an issue that some serious cases may go unprosecuted. As far as wait times go, some people have been waiting so long that they spent more time waiting than they would if they pleaded guilty and served their sentence.

The state argued that COVID caused them issues. However, the problem existed before 2020, which makes it impossible for that to be the main reason. Ultimately, it begs the question whether the state will eventually fix these issues, or if they will simply kick the can down the road and continue incurring fines. What’s unfortunate is the fact that mental health is so poorly understood by so many, and thus, those who suffer from mental illness struggle to get the help they need.

Psychiatric Issues and Mental Health Problems: What Is the Responsibility of the Employer in This Situation?

Recently, an increased amount of attention has been paid to mental health issues. Everyone needs to have access to a trained mental health professional who can manage issues such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Now, it appears that mental health issues are making their way into employment law as well. Recently, a High Court made an important decision in dismissing a wrongful termination case brought by a former employee.

An employer dismissed a former employee when that individual assaulted a colleague at work. In response, the former employee filed a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit alleged that the plaintiff broke down because he was overworked, physically ill, and mentally ill. The individual also claimed that the defendant was responsible for his mental health issues. The individual was seeking damages related to personal injury due to an adverse impact on his mental health and physical well-being brought on by poor working conditions.

The judge decided to dismiss this case. The judge stated that the defendant was unable to prove that the employer should have known he was suffering from pre-existing psychiatric conditions. Therefore, the defendants were granted summary judgment and the case was dismissed. Even though the individual filing the lawsuit may have proven that he was suffering from mental health issues, he was not able to prove that his employer should have known that he was suffering from these issues. As a result, there was no way his employer should have altered his working conditions due to his pre-existing mental health conditions and diagnoses.

Employees need to disclose pre-existing physical and mental health issues to their employers. That way, their employers may be able to take steps to better accommodate their health issues. It is not necessarily the responsibility of employers to ask employees whether they are suffering from pre-existing conditions. Instead, employees need to voice their concerns to make sure they can be accommodated. As this recent dismissal indicates, individuals who break down due to mental health issues at work might not necessarily be able to bring a case of wrongful treatment or wrongful termination against a former employer.