I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country but in Southern Oregon resources to support the mental health system stink! A friend of mine recently told me a story about her neighbor that I’d like to share.
“My neighbor who lives directly across the street from us is crazy!” said my friend (I’ll call her Jess because that’s her name). She recounted how the other day he was outside his house screaming, “I’m going to f***ing kill you!” Apparently, he wasn’t directing his assaults to anyone in particular, so Jess and her husband called the police to report the incident. The police came to the scene but because nothing actually happened, they were unable to take action (sound familiar?).
A few days later, Jess said the neighbor was out in front of his house again yelling profanities, but this time waving a gun in the air! (Keep in mind, Jess and her family live in a NICE neighborhood; we’re not talking low income housing.) So, she and her husband again called the police but the story has the same ending…He didn’t actually harm anyone or cause physical damage, so the police were unable to apprehend him.
Fast forward to just a few days ago, the neighbor burglarized a local Chinese restaurant with two shotguns in his possession. Fortunately, the man was apprehended and taken to jail before anyone was seriously injured. Sadly, however, there was no room in the psychiatric unit at the local hospital where he could have been evaluated and treated. Just a few hours after he was arrested, he was released without posting bail and is now back home as Jess’s neighbor across the street!
You might be thinking this all sounds all too familiar to circumstances you’ve seen or heard on the news. Some of you might have even experienced a similar incident to my friend Jess and her family. After heinous gun crimes occur at the hands of someone mentally ill, there is always a huge uproar about gun control for days and weeks on end. I always wonder, where’s the uproar in congress and in the media for amending legislation and allocating resources to address mental illness in our schools, the justice system and health care?
The system of how we manage and care for our mentally ill citizens has to change. It’s so reactive. Look at Jess’s neighbor. He was able to rant with a gun in front of his house without getting arrested because he didn’t hurt anyone! Really? Jess’s neighborhood is full of families with children and she has four young ones of her own.
I don’t know what the solution is but the status quo isn’t working and it seems to be getting progressively worse. An organization I frequently rely on as a resource is the National Association of Mental Illness, www.nami.org. They are making great strides in raising awareness, advocacy and affecting change with the issues surrounding mental illness. Anyone can get involved, donate or share their story. Visit NAMI or more information. Help me make lemonade, people! 🙂
Share your stories in a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!