There is a direct link between the growing prison population and the lack of mental health resources. The only difference is that we can scare people into paying to build more prisons and keep “dangerous people” away from us. It’s much harder to convince people to invest in prevention through mental health treatment, even if that would be much more effective in protecting everyone.
Carter is writing about mental health in Canada, but I think this really applies everywhere. When we talk about Mental Health Awareness, there’s a lot of focus on people struggling with Anxiety and Depression to seek help, and let them know they aren’t alone. That’s important, but it’s just part of the story:
Now, here comes a study, linked below, that has done the real scientific research and found:
“ACE scores can forecast mean group differences in later health problems; however, ACE scores have poor accuracy in identifying individuals at high risk for future health problems.”
Yes, there are statistics that show that there’s an impact at the societal level from childhood trauma. We should be addressing those issues as a society, things like child poverty, parents in the prison system, abuse, neglect, etc. because we know that as we lessen those impacts on kids, and make resources available for the kids who’s trauma we can’t prevent, we can impact the overall increases in depression, addiction, crime rates, etc. that are a direct result of childhood trauma. But, at an individual level, these things aren’t fate. How one person navigates trauma and is impacted by it, is not going to come down to just the number of traumas they dealt with as a child. When we identify one person with 4 or more ACEs according to the survey, all that really tells us is that it’s basically 50-50 whether or not they are depressed, or there’s a close to 30% chance they’ve used illicit drugs, but a 70% chance they haven’t. One person is not going to neatly fit every category and shouldn’t be treated as if they do.
In the article there’s even a story of a man who was chained up in a room with no windows for 30 years, who suffered from psychosis. Which is terrible.
But, isn’t this just the same stigma we have here too? Is it any “better” that we have people living on the streets or in prison when they suffer from psychosis or delusions? Aren’t we just locking them away in a different way, because we understand that we don’t actually have any way to help them, so we just want to ignore the issue?
In Nigeria, there is less than one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. 0.15, in fact. There is no rational way that someone suffering with psychosis in Nigeria is going to get professional help with those kinds of numbers, yet rather than coming together to support the families involved, they feel so much shame about having a “sick” family member that they try and hide them away for years, or completely abandon them to the streets.