Counterpoint Summer 2019 • News • Page 9

RUTLAND – Counterpoint readers called in with some strong reactions to the winter poll question that asked, “Should bathrooms be locked on a psych ward based on safety concerns?”

Of the 12 who responded by phone message, only one supported locked bathrooms. On the Vermont Psychiatric Survivors Facebook page, there were 93 responses, with 88 “no” votes and five “yes” votes for a total of 94% responding “no.” The 105 total responses were a record high. The question arose based upon a practice at the Brattleboro Retreat implemented a year ago.

“Most people would not kennel up a dog without giving them access to an area to do their business,” one person wrote in a Facebook post.

“I was hospitalized last year [at the Retreat] and I was terrified to go back there because they did that back then, and obviously it’s not been improved,” said a caller. “I just wanted to let you know you’re right, that’s not right, and I hope they further investigate this because it’s not OK. Patients shouldn’t feel they’re on lockdown; they should feel like they’re human beings.”

Another who called in to vote “no” said, “Seems to me that having access to a toilet – bathroom – is a human right.

“I think the people who cut off access to bathrooms should do something else – 15-minute checks – or find something, some other way to make sure safety is available. But not locking people out of bathrooms.”

Several expressed similar sentiments about addressing safety through design: “Bathrooms on psych units should be made safe, for safety concerns.”

“Why lock a bathroom that should be as safe as a [patient’s] room?” another commented.

A Facebook commenter added, appearing to intend to be facetious, “I feel the safest thing would be to lock people in padded cells, naked. We’re well on our way toward that goal.”

One caller said they were getting taken off a medication that made it so “if I feel the urge, I have to go right away; it’ll be too late to go get a staff member and go back.”

“It feels like it’s bothersome to the staff to have to ask them to open a bathroom every time I have to go in to change a tampon, to pee, check my hair,” another caller said. “It’s really frustrating.”

The one person who responded with a “yes” by phone made it apparent that they had not experienced psychiatric hospitalization:

“There’s a reason that people are in the psych ward, and that’s because they’re mentally unstable, and I think that says it all,” the caller said. “It’s for their own safety and I think for other people’s safety.”

The new question for the summer Counterpoint is:

“Would a 24-hour waiting period to buy a handgun reduce suicide deaths?”

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