Trying to Help Incarcerated Brother
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Q:  Trying to Help Incarcerated Brother

Dear Dr. Phelps,
My brother was diagnosed with b/d 11 years ago. Since the age of 14 he has been incarcerated; he is now 37. I have written letters to his Dr. while he was incarcerated. I also wrote to our mental health advocate Mrs. Tipper Gore with no response. Prison is not the answer for him so I was hoping you could possibly direct me on what I should do from here. Thank you.

Dear Ms. B' -- 
This must be extremely painful and frustrating for you, to stand on the sidelines and feel that there's so little you can do to help. I fear I've little to add beyond what you're already doing.  Making sure that the prison system knows you're monitoring his treatment (as closely as you can, like getting him to sign a release and then asking for copies of his medical records, so you can see what approaches are being tried and make sure they match up with
current standard of care) is a good idea.  You could get involved with your local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) as a place to put energy to help somebody with a related problem, even if it's not your brother directly; and their advocacy work, including nationally, is the best thing we have going in terms of this problem of the jails/prisons being our default mental health care system.  Good luck to you. 

Dr. Phelps

Published May, 2002 


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