orangeNetflix is producing a new show that features a female protagonist sent to prison after getting caught up with a drug smuggler.  The show unmasks the gritty life of a federal prison with inmates from all walks of life.   When an inmate acts out, they risk the chance of being transported to the psych unit.  Here is a sample conversation between two inmates discussing the psych floor.

“Is psych worse?”

“Way worse. It’s scary, cold, it’s real bad.  I wouldn’t wish it on the worse criminal.  They give me medication to make me calm, but that just makes me sleepy.  Sometimes when I’m real upset they tie me down like a balloon about to fly away.  It’s horrible.  Nobody comes back from psych.  Once you go to psych, you get lost in psych.” (Season I, Episode 11).

You would think that jail would be the bottom of the barrel, when really, psych is pointed out as the worse place to inhabit.   The quote touches on over medication, being in four point restraints, and the possibility of losing yourself in that environment. In my experience working in a psych ward, patients voiced similar concerns.  Patients would cheek their meds to avoid turning into a floating ghost, and they would scream when they were wrestled to solitary confinement where they would receive a “cocktail” a mix of tranquilizing medications that would leave them in a comatose state. This isn’t the first show in popular culture to address these issues.  Fortunately, the entertainment industry can be a vehicle to have an open dialogue and discussion about these concerns. Case in point:

If being admitted to a psych ward is considered worse than jail, we’ve got some serious issues to sort out, and a massive problem on our hands. 

Woman in prison jump suit image available from Shutterstock.