Monday, August 24, 2015

Dispelling The Myth Of Violence In Mental Illness

  Professional psychiatric studies continue to reach the same overwhelming conclusion;

Mentally ill people are no more violent than the general population

  In fact, they are far more likely to be victims through their own vulnerability than to ever hurt someone else.  But if you factor in drug abuse, the mentally ill are just as prone to violent behavior as are anyone else who abuses drug substances (including alcohol).
  Public policy actually adds to the vulnerability of the mentally ill by singling them out and taking away their constitutional rights to self defense with certain arms. That includes many military veterans who spend years in battle, but get their hunting equipment confiscated because they once sought treatment for PTSD.
Mentally ill people are no more violent than the general population.
  Perhaps the problem of public perceptions is heightened by sensationalized news reports of the very few mentally ill who, in their delusional state, do follow violent instincts. But most delusional people just seek to be left alone. They only become violent when cornered by ignorant police actions or incessantly nosey neighbors.
  Because of the failed public mental health system (mostly through a failure to preemptively set up a system for intervention) our society is being vastly overtaxed at the municipal and county levels of government. Our state budgets are paying vast fortunes to incarcerate folks who would never have committed crimes in their healthy state.
  15 years ago, Oklahoma's legislature decided to close Eastern State Hospital, in Vinita. The promise was that they would replace the 2600 bed facility with a network of community based treatment facilities. That turned out to be an empty promise. Only a small fraction of the bed-space was funded and now we often have to wait for our ill family members to be arrested and charged with crimes in order to get them treatment (unless we can actually convince a delusional patient to check himself into an expensive hospital willing to take him).
David Van Risseghem is 
the president of NAMI Tulsa;
 a nonprofit community mental
 health advocacy group.
NAMI Oklahoma is active in
 several communities. 
NAMI is the largest mental
 health advocacy organization
 in America.
  As a result, Oklahoma's two largest mental health treatment facilities are the Tulsa County Jail and the Oklahoma County Jail. But how do people get back on their feet and begin to restore their sanity, functionality, and relationships; when we add a police record? And they probably lost their job when they were put in jail, because you can't take a medical leave for a jail term like you can for a mental hospital stay.

  The most dangerous consequence of ignoring a person's problem may be that too often confused and suffering people turn to familiar drugs as a means of coping with the symptoms of psychosis. That is where the rate of violence generally triples(see chart). Essentially, we are perhaps tripling the violence by not aiding in the humane treatment of those displaying abnormal mental health.

  So now Oklahoma and other states are content to triple the cost of dealing with public mental health through criminalizing the sufferers and often destroying their chances of ever becoming functional contributors to society.
  How's that working out for you and your family? Don't tell me your bloodline doesn't have relatives with mental illness. The facts don't lie. Every family reunion has someone who should have attended, but their mental illness either prevented them or their family didn't include them.

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