Monday, December 17, 2012

Mental Toxicity Level?

I've already written about the primary lesson of the many recent mass shootings is that we need to do something about the easy availability of guns. But I still think much more needs to be said about mental health and anyway, I'm not sure that I have a lot to add on the gun situation. Go watch Up with Chris Hayes.
When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he had a great idea to save the state money: close down most of the mental hospitals. That's what happened in New York State in the 1990's. This was a false economy, to say the least. I'm not sure what the correlation is exactly, but this decision happened shortly before California and New York both saw its ranks of homeless skyrocket.
This is not just a State problem, this syndrome affects more more than just California and New York, of course. Sy Mukherjee wrote an excellent article over at Think Progress yesterday,
It's Easier For Americans To Access Guns Than Mental Health Services. In it, he notes that for the poor, it is much cheaper to buy a gun than to buy mental healthcare. He has the data in the article. But I was really struck by this passage:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that Connecticut’s public mental health system currently provides coverage for less than one in five Connecticut residents with a serious mental health problem. The other four may not be able to afford to pay for those services on their own, particularly since mental health issues tend to disproportionately affect poor people.
Four out of five? That's amazing. But that's what our country has become. It is like the psychopaths have taken full charge of our policy. And now what we hear is that we can't do anything about the mental health system; we can't do anything about our gun situation; but we can militarize our schools and afford desensitize and dehumanize or children by buying them guns and spending outrageous sums of money to train them them to use them on other humans.

We are a rich, selfishly irresponsible,  willfully self destructive society that refuses take care of our less fortunate.

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