The Mental Illness Discussion Needs Substance
Mental illness is an incredibly difficult issue to even approach, but avoiding the issue increases the likelihood of awful things happening. In Missoula an elderly woman was beat to death with a chair by her 25 year old grandson. In Orange County, California, a jury somehow came to the conclusion that police weren’t acting criminally when they beat a homeless schizophrenic man to death, despite graphic video evidence (which I haven’t watched and won’t link to).
Getting angry at the police in the Kelly Thomas case is understandable. That said, it’s a broken system of support and treatment that makes violent interactions with police more likely.
I know Missoula likes to think of itself as “progressive”, but when it comes to mental health services, we are way behind. I wrote this post last December in response to a Missoulian editorial, because the members of the editorial board said they wanted a discussion. That discussion is sputtering along with an article that touches on something Idaho is going to try because it seems to be working in Billings: crisis centers:
Idaho is looking to neighboring Montana for inspiration in the creation of a trio of crisis centers designed to serve the state’s mentally ill.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter are asking the Legislature to approve a $5 million budget for the centers.
That’s enough money to get them up and running in three cities by the end of the year.
The facilities are planned for Boise, Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene. They are patterned after the Community Crisis Center in Billings, Mont., which has proven successful in the years since it opened in June 2006.
Idaho mental health advocates say the centers will keep more mentally ill people out of Idaho’s jails and emergency rooms.
That’s the whole article. Pretty bare-bones, if you ask me.
We desperately need a substantive discussion about mental illness so people can be informed. Maybe then we, as a city, won’t waste time watching our city council debate, pass, then reconsider unconstitutional ordinances.
At Intelligent Discontent, Sheena Rice reacts to 3 high school kids committing suicide in her hometown, Butte America, in a post titled Montana’s Failure in Addressing Mental Illness.
It’s unfortunate the stories we hear about mental illness usually occur after something tragic has happened. Because of confidentiality, the stories of daily struggles and successes are much more difficult to tell. I’m not sure those in the service provider realm can effectively advocate for the necessary funding without some examples of how our current approach to addressing mental illness is failing miserably.