This is an ongoing problem, everywhere.
“Prior to her arrest, Sarah had reached out to several rehabilitation centers for help with her mental health and substance abuse issues. Some said that she was not “suicidal enough” to receive treatment from their facilities. They needed proof that she had the means and intent to commit suicide. Others told her they simply did not have enough beds to accommodate her.
Sarah’s experience is not unique. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), funding is inadequate for the services required to fulfill the needs of the more than 500,000 Texans suffering from mental illness. In fact, Mental Health America ranked Texas 46th for its mental health care accessibility in 2017. As a result, the state’s jails are forced to fill the role of mental health facilities.”
We seem fully capable of coming up with money for jails, and other law enforcement tools, but when it comes to resources for mental health and addiction, tools that might just keep people out of prison? Yeah, not so much. Despite the unstated fact that if we helped people before they committed a crime, there’d be fewer victims of crime too.
For more, you can also read This Place is Crazy, an account by a prison journalist about how mental health care works, or doesn’t, from inside of a prison.