I just read an opinion that began to address the issue of mental health and mental illness. The author voiced his opinion that we have mixed up just who has the real problem. Is it the “patient” who is struggling to deal with the pain and suffering of reality, or the care givers who are trying their best to get the patient covinced that they need to change or worse, to “get over it”. The author also brings to light an extremely valid point. People who have problems have no where to go and so many of them end up in jail.
In the 1900’s and before, people who were “crazy” or mentally ill were housed in asylums. These were, at best, warehouses and at worst were places where horrific things were done to the people housed there. “Reform” closed these asylums and turned the residents out into the streets. This is where a great many of these people are today. Some of the lucky ones were taken in, often reluctantly, by relatives who weren’t equipped to deal with the problems that came with them. Often, these poor people were forced out into the street which only increased the problems that they faced.
Not surprisingly, outbursts of emotions or anger were addressed by the only proper who now handle them, the police. Jail then soon became the place where people with problems go. The process is simple. A disturbed person would do something that attracted the police, they would be handcuffed, put into a vehicle and carted to jail. Most of these people need help which isn’t usually Mn c u in jail. Communities don’t give enough money just to house criminals let alone properly take care of them..
So here is part of the situation, instead of bringing true reform to the mental health system, they effectively and simply shut them down, leaving hundreds of suffering people with no where to be. Many of these previously mishandled “patients” end up in overcrowded, ill equipped jails where they get minimal or no treatment for various ailments. They get out of jail at some point then only to start the process over again.
Mental health facilities that are available , limit their services to acute care. There are not many long term care facilities and of those, most are filled to capacity. Usually there is a waiting list for any openings. WAITING LISTS. That means that someone who needs help NOW will have to wait. If they act out, or threaten themselves or others, they go to jail because there is no where else to put them. Instead of help they get a record that follows them everywhere. A criminal record. How is that for a kick in the teeth..
There must be something in between asylums and jail. There very simply MUST be an alternative. Anger that is caged and fear that is fueled by confusion and criminal behavior are pressure cookers primed to explode. Let’s wake up people. Issues can happen to ANYONE! If you think yourself to be immune, one need only to follow the stories of people who had normal lives until one day, their lives were turned upside down! In fact, everyday in the news there are stories of people who have lost their fortunes, their health and even their lives.
Now comes the good part. The part of the story that tells of who has the power and authority to implement change in the system. The people who have these powers won’t use them. First thing out of their mouths will be that there is no money to make a change. Another possible argument might be that there isn’t that great a need. This part causes me the greatest anger. Because of those who have the power to change usually have the luxury of having the means to get whatever help that THEY might need. Whether it is cash, insurance, or a rich uncle, they have the means. Which also means that they won’t go to jail or have an arrest record. They certainly won’t see the need for change.