Moving the mentally ill to the streets

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Because the asylums are cruel. Only problem, the streets are a lot crueler.

From Christopher F. Rufo writing at the excellent City Journal:

The Invisible Asylum
Olympia, Washington, is a microcosm of the problems created by the emptying of mental hospitals.
The story of American deinstitutionalization has become familiar. In a long arc—from President Kennedy’s Community Mental Health Act of 1963 to the present—federal and state governments dismantled mental asylums and released the psychiatrically disturbed into the world. Though there were sometimes brutal abuses in the state mental hospitals of the early twentieth century, the closure of the asylums did not put an end to mental illness. If anything, with the proliferation on the streets of psychosis-inducing drugs such as methamphetamine, the United States has more cases of serious mental illness than ever before—and less capacity to treat and manage them.

The question now is not, “What happened to the asylums?” but “What replaced them?” Following the mass closure of state hospitals and the establishment of a legal regime that dramatically restricted involuntary commitments, we have created an “invisible asylum” composed of three primary institutions: the street, the jail, and the emergency room. In slaying the old monster of the state asylums, we created a new monster in its shadow: one that maintains the appearance of freedom but condemns a large population of the mentally ill to a life of misery.

I’ve spent the better part of two years looking at this invisible asylum in West Coast cities. In major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, the scale of mass psychosis is overwhelming, and the inadequacy of the public response is self-evident. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how public officials could “solve” the problem of mental illness in these places, which are home to tens of thousands of individuals suffering from the “perilous trifecta” of mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. By contrast, the contours of the problem are much more intelligible, even manageable, in smaller cities and towns.

Olympia, Washington—a city of 52,000 tucked between a joint military base and a state forest—is one such place. In Olympia, approximately 250 individuals have become entangled within this broken system of care, cycling through the streets, the local jails, and the emergency ward at Providence St. Peter Hospital. A half-century ago, many, if not most, of these wayward souls would have been institutionalized. In 1962, Washington State had 7,641 state hospital beds for a total population of 2.9 million; today, it has 1,123 state hospital beds for a population of 7.6 million—a 94 percent per-capita reduction.

Much more at the site - a very well-written examination. Olympia is the WA State Capitol and is its own sort of special.  It is also home to far-left Evergreen State College. For more on that august institution of higher learning: here, here, here, here, here, here and here for starters.

When liberal Seattle weekly The Stranger says that Evergreen: Evergreen Ranks as One of the Worst Colleges in the U.S. for Free Speech, you have to know that something is very rotten at its core. 

I have written about the Community Mental Health Act and its fallout several times before.

Sometimes, the old ways are the best.  This whole failure was started by activists.  We need to remember this quote:

20210327-activism.jpg

Activists are just people who have learned how to use the media to their own ends.  They are not "more" correct.  They are not in the majority. They are not smarter. They are just loud.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on March 30, 2021 4:53 PM.

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