The Mental Health Merry-go-round

I don’t own a gun, have never owned a gun, and never want to own a gun.  Guns make me nervous.  So I have no problem with laws that reasonably limit the types of guns people own and places they can be carried.  That said, I am frustrated that repeated “big news” events involving gun violence devolving into to the same old tired division of political self-righteousness  – NRA people are mean and nasty… blah blah blah.

What particularly bothers me is that almost all of these high profile events, it seems to me, are really stories about the way society manages mental illness.  As a nation we improved when, some decades ago, we finally went away from the insane asylum model of treatment towards treating people with mental illness in the community.

My take is that these high profile news events provide an opportunity to address the problems that have arisen as a result of the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill.  It is well recognized that what has largely happened is that our prisons have become the new mental health institutions.  Mentally ill people commit crimes when they go off their meds or don’t receive appropriate treatment.  But if we take the next step and provide adequate community supports maybe we realize the promise of the movement that began decades ago, save a few bucks by reducing our prison population, and actually make the lives of those people with mental illness(and their family members) better.

I was prompted to write this blog by an article I saw on mlive.com regarding Governor Snyder’s position on health care exchanges.  Click here for article.  Maybe it’s just politics, but I like where he is going with mental health initiatives.