Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mental Illness: The REAL Elephant In The Room.


Mental Illness: The REAL Elephant In The Room.

By Berkley R. Bruce


  After every mass shooting the government, the media and almost everyone else uneducated and miseducated about almost everything, are quick to point to firearms as the root of the problem. The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has proven to be more of the same, again they miss the boat. They totally refuse to examine or even talk about the true main causes of these incidents. No one wants to address the proverbial elephant in the room, mental illness. They won't even look at him just standing right there. The lampshade and tablecloth make for a poor disguise. I'm not a mental health expert and don't claim to be. I am simply a realist. Gun control will not solve the problem. That's like treating someone for the flu when they have a broken leg.

Let's put the blame where it really belongs for a change. The healthcare system as a whole in this country is abominable and getting worse. The mental health system is already worse and guess what, it's not getting any better. A good deal of the blame for all these things belongs to....*drum roll*, the pharmaceutical industry. They have essentially turned every other part of healthcare into an industry. With commercials showing people jogging and smiling to a soundtrack of cheesy background music. They may as well be selling a soft drink. All this joy and good happyness stuff distracts you while a narrator lists the possible side-effects. These side-effects are often times worse than the disease it's meant to treat. Ever try reading the really small print at the bottom of the screen? Heart attack and stroke from an allergy pill? Doctors no longer care for or about patients, they're glorified snake-oil salesmen and drug pushers. Their offices are usually just a continuation of the cheesy commercials. Treatment for anything now basically means a pill for your ills, and you're on your way. 

The pharmaceutical industry certainly would have us believe that there is indeed a pill for every ill. Present day treatment basically equates to giving a mentally unstable person a bunch of expensive pills which probably don't work anyway and expecting them to take them on schedule. Many times, no one monitors them to see how well, or if it's working or even if they're being taken. They would have us believe that someone who is dangerously mentally ill is safe to walk the streets by simply taking a few pills. Safe to return to home, work or school...seriously? They would have relatives of dangerously mentally ill people believe that they can be safely kept at home. "I can handle him/her as long as they're on their meds" or "They would never hurt me." Famous last words if there ever were any.

Not so long ago mentally ill people were institutionalized in asylums. I know that word is no longer PC, and most of these places were no walk in the park, and many were poorly run. Patients did however, receive treatment and medication. Most of all they were kept out of society and monitored. 

Sometime in the 70s or 80s someone figured this wasn't very profitable, and it was cheaper to let these people run free and give them pills through insurance or other programs which did not require housing or simply keep sending them from place to place. Many budget cuts and facility closures later more and more faith was put into the pharmaceutical industry. This method also proved cheaper for the insurance industry. Long-term medication is much cheaper than long-term inpatient care. By the 90s it was treat'em and street'em, literally. Cheaper is not always a bargain. It was also around this time that most major cities began to see an influx of mostly mentally ill homeless people. Such people left to their own devices tend to self-medicate with street drugs or not at all. 

This began a new traditional dance. The mentally unstable person gets picked up, held for evaluation, given medication and put on a bus to another city to start the dance all over again. These factors still continue today creating problems for law enforcement, emergency rooms, court systems and community services everywhere. Don't believe me? Go visit a Greyhound bus terminal in almost any major city early in the morning. All those people that talk to themselves and walk leashes with no dog didn't just randomly get on the same bus. 

Not all mentally ill people are destined to become active shooters or axe murderers. The ones who are violent or that are more likely to be, should have a place to go and receive care and be kept off the streets indefinitely. As I said before the word asylum is no longer PC. Give them a kinder, gentler name if you like. Whatever you call them its time to bring them back. Learn from the mistakes of the past and make the necessary improvements. Would this solve all the problems? No. However, you will find this to be a much more effective and logical solution than more gun control.

Guns have always been around, and the mentally ill have always been around. The main difference between then and now is how society deals with the latter.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, working with the mentally ill, I have to say I agree that too many mentally I'll are released back on the street too soon and left to their own vices to stay on their medication and when they miss their supervised appointments often times they aren't looked for or seen again until they are taken into custody after a tragedy! That is sad and disappointing but the police just don't have the man power to really look for mentally I'll that just missed an appointment, and they don't become a priority until the have committed another crime which is too late if their next crime is a mass murder!

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