Mentally Ill Misunderstood
by Larry Cory
To say that the mentally ill are shunned by society might be a gross understatement.
Truth is - the mentally ill are far too often misunderstood, mistreated and woefully disregarded by state and federal governments.
This year Pennsylvania Governor Corbett has proposed a 20% cut in his budget for the mentally ill. It’s almost criminal to cut funds for people already stressed to the max because of inadequate funding. And speaking of criminals, people on death row actually get better care than the mentally ill.
Television and Hollywood often portray the mentally ill in the most negative light. They’re frequently the brunt of jokes or seen as vile, criminally, insane creatures, lurking behind bushes and in dark allies waiting for unsuspecting victims.
High profile cases like the shooting of Ronald Reagen by John Hinckly, Jr. and the more recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner have drawn considerable attention. TV host Nancy Grace and others jump all over these cases, complaining that society should have all of these people locked up for life.
Yes, these are tragic events, and yes, these men are mentally ill and yes, they should be locked up. Unfortunately, the attention that these cases draw makes the public believe that all mentally ill people are violent and all should be institutionalized.
Other high profile cases in others situations tend to elicit similar reactions. If a teacher is guilty of some impropriety - then all are guilty. If there’s a bad cop, all cops are bad and on it goes. Truth is - “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch....,.” said the Jackson Five. If it does- we’re all in some serious trouble.
This kind of mis-guided thinking may prevail in a group of people opposing the building of mental health rehab facility that wants to locate at the site of the former Hartman’s restaurant in Plainfield Township. Given society’s mind-set, that’s a rather predictable reaction. However, if we subtract media hype from the equation, and add truth the answer is clear.
> For example, alcoholics and drug addicts, which includes eight per cent of the population, commit twice as many violent crimes as the mentally ill.
> The mentally ill are no more likely to commit crimes than “normal” people.
> The mentally ill are six times more likely to be the victims of crime than perpetrators of crime.
> Unemployed, divorced and abused people are more likely to commit crimes than the mentally ill.
Statistics don’t lie and if the truth be told - the mentally ill are probably less dangerous than some folks in your neighborhood. COMMENTS