Robert is correct about this, our perceptions about patients, is not the reality, because we only pay attention to the worst case scenarios.
“We know that mentally ill people are ten times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than they are of being the perpetrators; we know that the mentally ill are responsible for no more than one out of every twenty violent crimes on the books. And yet when most of us think of the mentally ill, we see a whole monster movie playing out in our heads. Amador gets this: He knows the media is more likely to run with the story of a violent mentally ill person than the story of a mentally ill person who has a recovery. And yet the numbers just don’t bear this out. Look at it this way: About 12 million Americans are living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. If they all were dangerous, we’d be living in a complete Mad Max-like dystopia.”
It’s true that most people dealing with bipolar or schizophrenia are not dangerous, and it’s also true that someone in the middle of a psychotic episode is not going to seem very “normal” to us. Unfortunately, what that often means is that people will call the police, because who else is there to call? Then, the police, who are trained to deal with dangerous criminals, act accordingly, because, again, they have no other training. The best option for them is to get the person off the streets and way from the public, which means jail, because, once more, there’s probably not anywhere else to take them.
Now they are part of the criminal justice system. A place with almost no mental health treatment available.
Of course, as the article below also reminds us, that’s only if they actually survive all of these encounters, which is, far too often, not the case.
All these years this still happens because we don’t have anything else. Maybe we should rethink that?