Minnesota, USA (10/24/2005)
||Reviewed by Denise Fletcher
Adventures in a Mental Health Center
By Jim Koepke
Jim Koepke is an award-winning mental health administrator who makes us privy to the haphazard inner workings of a fictional mental health facility and the silly antics of its staff. "Adventures in a mental Health Center" is about the life of Mr. Jim Krentz and his daily trials and triumphs working inside the 73-year-old Nicollet County Mental Health Center in Minnesota.
Mr. Krentz, although the business manager, is forced to serve the clients without any formal training, because of a highly incompetent, clinically paranoid director. The director, Dr. Neil Bowman, is so obsessed with his plants and his puzzles that he rarely leaves his office. Dr. Bowman rules with an iron fist and has the personality of Herbert Hoover; making the staff fear for their jobs and their lives. A 6-foot, middle-aged man, Dr. Bowman is inept and vindictive with disgusting habits and a callous attitude. He enjoys watching the staff squirm. Dr. Bowman's Management Team is rarely ever allowed to provide any input and when they do, Dr. Bowman disregards anything that they have to say. Anyone who disagrees with him at the weekly meeting automatically becomes the victim of the day!
Mr. Jim Krentz knows great help when he finds it and is sadly disappointed when the incredulous Dr. Bowman refuses to promote Lorna, an extremely hard-working clerk and committee chair. After receiving an award for excellence, she transfers to another department and works her way up to program analyst. Countless staff are fired, transferred, or resign under Dr. Bowman's leadership, regardless of the cost to the center, the county or the taxpayers; Angela Distent, a receptionist with chronic depression who is fired ends up homeless; Robbie, the supervisor sues and wins after being let go.
When it comes time to rehire, Dr. Bowman always takes the path of least resistance and purposely chooses the least-qualified employees; the dim-witted clinical supervisor, Seth lacks any real challenge as a subordinate and becomes Dr. Bowman's right-hand man. Patricia O'Connell, the mid-level manager refuses to dispute Dr. Bowman in any way that might jeopardize her job; Dr. Smythe is paid for hours he doesn't work. The only one that can stand up to Dr. Bowman in the least is Mr. Jim Krentz. When he is pushed to act as director without the title or the financial compensation, along with his own position, Mr. Krentz's reputation grows.
Mr. Jim K. becomes a guiding force in the lives of the professional staff at the center. He is sensitive to the needs of people who are struggling with mental health issues and confirms the fact that a mental health center should be a healthy place to work. Mr. Krentz does all he can to cover for the staff's incompetent work and behavior; going so far as to write their weekly reports. When a supervisor runs from his client who is acting out, Mr. Krentz is called in to deal with the situation. Seth, who has phobias of his own, is unwilling and unable to handle it, which makes Mr. Krentz begin to wonder whether certain staff are really there to serve their clients or to collect their pension.
The center is fraught with mishaps and confusion and the usual office politics abound. The one man who does make a lasting difference at the facility is a child psychologist, Dr. Dan Saunders. He is promoted to team leader and manages to reorganize the center so that child and family services are in a separate division far away from Dr. Bowman. Dr. Bowman is guilty of mismanagement, falsifying records and being verbally abusive to staff. Any time that Dr. Bowman takes a leave of absence, the staff rejoice and are given an excuse to party! Over the years, the county administrators are called in to inspect the facility, but Dr. Bowman hires consultants like Dr. Siegfried, a psychiatrist who once took refuge in Argentina, who are happy to give the center a passing grade for a price.
Jim Koepke would like nothing more than to educate others about the perils of the mental health system and help bring to light the problems in order to spawn reform. He is the coordinator of the Mensa Mental Health Special Interest Group. His book is at times irreverent, unnerving and painful, but certainly comes from the heart.
By Denise Fletcher © 2005
Adventures in a Mental Health Center
Official Newsletter of Minnesota Mensan
||Jim Koepke, the coordinator of the Mensa Mental Health Special Interest Group, has written Adventures in a Mental Health Center. This is a hilarious, controversial, and thought-provoking "behind closed doors" look at mental health providers and services in a fictional clinic. Books about mental health typically are grim and unpleasant, but this book deals with the subject of mental health in a manner that is fun. The idea of an enjoyable read about mental health is unique.
The story has a "take no prisoners" attitude and wastes no time knocking more than a few mental health professionals off their pedastals. This book illustrates the importance of evaluating the mental health services being received.
The book is available through Amazon.com, PublishAmerica.com, or it can be ordered through local bookstores. The book can also be ordered by phone at (877) 333-7422