Washington shutdown: Closing hospitals for mentally ill a big mistake

EDGEWATER -- I wonder how many more needless deaths have to occur before this country finally realizes that closing most of the mental hospitals was a huge mistake.

I remember when that decision was made and our homeless population jumped because many of those people had nowhere else to go or were loners who would not go to shelters.

Our crime rate also went up as these people tried to survive any way they could. Our jails now are full of people who need to be being treated in mental health facilities not the judicial system. Just ask any person in charge of a jail or prison and they will verify that fact for you.

This has got to change.

The police had a chance to avoid the naval yard shootings when that perpetrator actually went to them about hearing the voices. They should have Baker-Acted (committed) him and got him into treatment somewhere and all those killed and injured that fateful day would be whole and with their families today.

Everyone knew way back when the closings began that it was wrong, but the government decided it would save them money. Did it? Really? Aren’t they still paying but for more and more jails instead?

Police and physicians need to be able to recognize people who are a danger to themselves or others and have the authority to try to do something to help them and keep them from the general population. Not only that but families who recognize that a loved one is in mental jeopardy need to have affordable outlets that they can access to get help for that person.

Many mentally ill people can be handled on out-patient basis as long as they have affordable access to medications and counseling. If they stop taking their medications someone needs to be able to intervene to keep that person and others around them safe. Unfortunately, the places they can go are few and have long waiting lists because the funds for their survival keep being cut while the fat cats doing the cutting get raises.

Many mentally ill people can be handled on out-patient basis as long as they have affordable access to medications and counseling. If they stop taking their medications someone needs to be able to intervene to keep that person and others around them safe. Unfortunately, the places they can go are few and have long waiting lists because the funds for their survival keep being cut while the fat cats doing the cutting get raises.

The woman who was just killed in Washington by cops was known by her family to have postpartum depression. She needed to be helped before she decided to take her 1-year-old child, drive to Washington and end up dead.

Don’t you think this needs to be fixed? I’d suggest telling your congressman/woman but they are too involved in getting their own paychecks than actually helping their constituents as evidenced by the sequester and the current shutdown of the government.

With that avenue closed how do you think we can begin a change? Or do you even think this is a problem? I’d really like to know what you think.

Darlene Vann Picture

Short Bio

Musings By Darlene Vann
Darlene Vann is a resident of Edgewater and has been with the 24/7 Internet newspaper from the onset. She likes to write about the lighter side of life, but sometimes feels compelled to tackle some of the tougher issues.