Illness needs awareness
Mental health has been evolving in the recent years. We know a lot more on mental illness than we used to. But is there more we could be doing to help?
Crime and mental health can have a close connection to themselves. When we really start to think about why someone behaved the way they did maybe we could have prevented it. Would the proper treatment from a young age and equal opportunity changed things? A stable environment could do so much for someone.
Jails and prisons unfortunately have held many people trying to recover from mental illnesses. These facilities just are not equipped to be default mental health centers. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, close to two million people with mental illness are booked into jails every year. During a mental health crisis, a lot of people are more likely to encounter police verses get medical attention. Prisons and jail make for a hard place to recover. As much as we would like to think they are drug-free, they are not.
Those who suffer from mental illness are quite likely to develop addiction problems. Approximately half of those with mental illness will suffer from substance-use disorder. As easy as it may see to lock up those who suffer from mental illness, it is unethical. This cycle can lock people up for longer periods of time then intended. Almost half of those in prison will return shortly before the one-year mark of being released.
With many state hospitals closing its doors, those who have been institutionalized their whole lives are being thrown onto the streets. The cycle of homelessness begins. It starts to become all about survival. Selling their prescriptions (if they are still getting them), self-medicating through illegal drugs, stealing to survive and a lot of other disturbing behavior may take place. This is where crime starts to happen. If only they could have had a stable place to call home, someone to help them take their meds, and getting help they need. After all, just about anyone with proper mental treatment could attribute to society again.
What we need to do as a society is start teaching about mental health in grade school. Enforcing the idea that it is okay to get help. Teach those from a young age cognitive therapy skills. Bringing up tomorrow’s kids with a better understanding for mental health could save someone from going down a spiraling path. Imagine if the chain of events leading to someone’s mental break could all be changed. Start with this younger generation and let’s start doing better.