Darren Kistler: Helping heal mentally ill patients
Posted On: Feb 17, 2017
Darren Kistler is an institution counselor at Western State Hospital in Lakewood. There he works to remove the stigma often attached to mental illness. He helps his patients realize they’re not bad people -- they just have a bad disease that can be treated.
Darren is one of the state employees we may never see but whose work we couldn’t live without.
His civilly-committed patients have been deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, or gravely disabled. “They’re people who have pretty chronic illnesses that require a longer-term treatment,” Darren says.
He leads his patients through a number of therapeutic classes to give them coping skills, social skills and other skills “so they can return to the community.”
Darren says he makes a difference by “providing a sympathetic face and someone who understands what they’re going through.”
Sometimes patients may become combative or upset or depressed and difficult to reach, he says. But there is more progress than there are setbacks.
Darren says “it’s a blessing, a real privilege to work” with his patients – and to see them ready to leave the hospital and return home.
“I feel rewarded,” Darren says. “I really like to reflect back to them the progress that I’ve seen in them, encourage them to continue....
“It’s a little battle in one person’s life, but it’s helpful to the community and to the family, the services we’ve provided to them.”
Washington state employees like Darren Kistler are the public servants who work for us everyday.