Mentally Ill Jailed More Often Than Hospitalized

As some of you may know, May is Mental Health Month.  If you are interested in mental health issues, you may want to check out this excellent resource, Mental Health America.  I will be adding them to the “Resources for Disabled Persons” page as well.  What I did not know until I reviewed the Mental Health America website is that May has been Mental Health Month since 1949.

I find that fact astonishing considering that bias (or, at best, discomfort with) mental health issues forced Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton from the 1972 Democratic Presidential ticket alongside, George McGovern.  The fact that May has been Mental Health Month since 1949 also calls into question a shocking report from USA Today, released earlier this month.  You can link to the USA Today article here.

According to the article, a seriously mentally ill person in the USA is three times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized.  Furthermore, in no state was a seriously mentally ill person — someone with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, for example — less likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized.  States that stood out at opposite ends of the spectrum, however, were North Dakota and Nevada.  In North Dakota, a mentally ill person was, at least, equally likely to be hospitalized as incarcerated.  In Nevada, however, a mentally ill person was 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized.

Before any readers jump to the conclusion that this article is just one more piece of liberal dribble – these statistics were based on a report prepared by the National Sheriff’s Association, hardly a bastion of wild liberalism, and the Treatment Advocacy Center.  Kudos to the Sheriff’s Association for participating in this study.  In my opinion, it is incredibly important to see law enforcement taking a leading role in getting this kind of information out to the public because, unfortunately, law enforcement in many areas often lacks adequate training to appropriately deal with the mentally ill.  As a result, these citizens’ frequently find themselves abused, mis-used, wrongly incarcerated, and their conditions severely exacerbated.

My personal thanks to National Alliance on Mental Illness for circulating the USA Today article on LinkedIn.  For more information on the subject of mental health generally, please check out the website at National Institute of Mental Health.

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