Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I spend a lot of time on websites of the various Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) community clinics in Texas.  Working in a prison, we have limited Internet access, and I am one of those who has it.  So I look up information for other people as well as for the patients on my caseload who are leaving the prison system.  

One of the major resources in the free world for our patients is the MHMR clinics where, hopefully, the patients can continue their mental health care after leaving prison. I frequently go to their websites to find contact information.  I find all kinds of things on the websites easily, especially information about their services, patients rights, who the board members are. Many of the websites have an emergency number or "hot line" number listed. But quite frequently, the contact information, addresses, locations, office hours are difficult to find. 

I am savvy around websites, and persistent at finding what I need. Consider this:  many of the patients of an MHMR agency are low functioning, disorganized mentally, have limited computer time, are not computer savvy... The websites, especially if meant to be used by the patients of MHMR are not very user friendly.

I have had occasion to access the DSM5 website... The DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association is the manual used by mental health professionals to understand the criteria for diagnosing mental health disorders.  It has a great deal more information in it.  DSM5 means this is the 5th version (actually, 6th, there was a DSMIV and a DSMIV Revised). The compilation and revisions are done by psychiatric professionals, including clinicians, researchers, what have you.  It depends on science, research, clinical information, statistical information about mental health, and more.  It is in draft stage, due out in May 2013, after 13 years of revisions....

I went to the DSM5.org website, one that is designed for some of the smartest people in mental health practice to use. And found what I was looking for immediately. 

Okay, so the local MHMRs are probably building their websites on a shoe string, maybe using in house personal who are 'the shade tree mechanics' in the website construction world, and maybe have another set of duties. And the American Psychiatric Association (APA) probably paid well to have their website constructed by a website professional.  And, just because someone is a well educated mental health professional, it does not mean they are computer savvy, so the APA probably put a premium on easy to use.  And, psychiatrists are busy people who do not want to muck around a website.

It is sad that the people who need the help the most do not get it, though...

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