Foolishness since 2007

Foolishness since 2007
Foolishness since 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2018

We Fail To Address Mental Illness

In Sunday’s NYT there was a long article about a homeless woman who lived on a grate near Grand Central Terminal. She was seemingly intelligent, a Williams grad, and had a promising future snuffed out by mental illness.

What is ironic is that the majority (probably all) of the people involved and interviewed probably support the deinstitutionalization craze that has gripped America since the 1970s. I wonder whether a firm public policy of forced commitment would have helped this woman. My suspicion is that it would have. That is not to say that our institutions were wonderful, but an all-or-nothing approach makes no sense. We have moved the mentally ill out of sometimes awful psychiatric facilities into the revolving door of the street, prison and an early death.

5 comments:

  1. I have recently started to become aware of the huge issue of mental illness that afflicts so many people after my son was diagnosed. We had no idea for many years that he was suffering and most people don't. The first thing that is needed is education for all about mental illness. It does not mean someone is handicapped or insane. Very often it is based upon physical problems and chemical imbalances. We also need to get over the stigma associated with mental illness. As with so many medical problems, there needs to be much more resources dedicated to working to treat people and research causes and cures. This at a time when the military budget continues to skyrocket and funds for health care are cut.
    Thank you for making note of this and doing your part to help publicize.

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    1. We have always swept mental health under the rug. A slight chemical imbalance can cause undesirable behavior. Insurance coverage is scant. Jails are being used as substitutes for proper care. And the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with your son, variations are normal for change. The problem is with our failure to deal with the undesirable effects.

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  2. I am a criminal defense lawyer and I see way too many mentally ill people. They're in and out of jail, often for minor crimes, and the only treatment they get is while they are in jail. There's a reason the LA county jail is the largest mental health treatment facility in the nation.
    Locking people up for years in squalid conditions with little or no treatment isn't the answer but leaving them on the street isn't the answer either.

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    1. I don't have the answer Tom. Neither do the elected folks. Surely we could do something beneficial. Thanks to you and MrBill for commenting.

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  3. There is no solution to this problem until science finds the reason why people become mentally unstable and they come up with a medical cure. Until then we all just have to look for the signs and hopefully deal with stopping any violence associated with this illness.

    Just a side comment about jails being a treatment center for the mentally ill.
    Having worked in the largest facility in this country for 20 years. ( Rikers Island) I can tell you from personal experience that those in jail for mental reasons BELONG there. The majority committed serious crimes and even though many go through treatments and programs and some are let go back out into society, they again commit more crimes of serious natures and return right back into the institution.
    That’s why I mentioned science as the possible solution. Rehab just doesn’t work.

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Feedback from you is always appreciated.