OpEdNews Op Eds

The Earthquake Within Our Own Borders

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 3   Well Said 2   Valuable 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 2/4/10

When a tragic event like the earthquake in Haiti occurs, the hotlines are a buzz and now we can even text our donations to help the hundreds of thousands left homeless and in need. Everything is made easy for us. Our news programs flash the telephone and text numbers while bombarding us with devastating images. I just received my umpteenth e-mail alert.

While I applaud these efforts; the heartfelt generosity I see outpouring from my countrymen and women to strangers across the globe makes me wonder; how can many of these same people literally step over the homeless on our own streets? We divert our glances and quicken our pace. Sure, some of us give money to charities, but the homeless remain.

An earthquake occurred within our own borders a long time ago and we have been feeling the aftershocks for decades. The US homeless population rivals the numbers of people afflicted by the Earthquake in Haiti and up to a third have a severe form of mental illness. We have become so accustomed to it that we don't even see the victims on the street anymore.

What happened? Well part of what happened was that beginning in the 1960's, an explosion of former state hospital patients were released into our communities. The premise was that community mental health services were not only more humane, but less costly.

The whole process was coordinated poorly; housing could not be secured to keep pace with the number of patients being released and remains a problem today. This started the homeless problem and since housing continues to be a problem, so does homelessness. On top of that, the sickest of the sick were also released; those who, through no fault of their own, would never recover enough to participate in their own care. My brother Paul was one of them.

The flow of patients released into the community continued, unabated, over decades, and the homeless population continued to grow. So did our prison population. The sickest of the sick, not only do not understand they are sick, they do not have the life skills required to maintain their physical, let alone mental health.

Yes, I can hear you. Many people with a severe mental illness can live productive lives in the community. I am not talking about them. Yes, the community system can work for many people with severe forms of mental illness, but not all.

The sickest of the sick cannot manage the maze of rules and regulations they run into on the "outside". They don't even know how to cook their own food and buy their own groceries, yet they are expected to do just that. Adult homes are the last resort for people like my brother and now they will be closed due to the latest Supreme Court ruling that they are unconstitutional.

Virtually no long-term care facilities are available to people who are so sick due to a mental illness that they are made incapable of living on their own to the point where they could die unless of course, they also have a debilitating illness in some other organ of their body, or the person is over 64 or under 21. I know, it's confusing isn't it? But that's the way it is. This is discrimination pure and simple.

I think about the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in our own country; a large portion of them are just plain sick and need our help. Many wind up in prison because of incidents that occurred while they were having a psychotic episode. They are all someone's son or daughter, sister or brother, yet we still just step over them or look the other way. It's very sad.

For more on why there are no long-term care facilities available for people with severe mental illness and what you can do to change it, please read my post, End Discrimination Against the Severely Mentally Ill.

 

http://mcclucker.blogspot.com

Ilene is the 9th of 10 children, a twin-less twin, the mother of twin boys (aren't they supposed to skip a generation?) and a wife of 27 years. Growing up in a large, Irish-Catholic family was an experience, to say the least, made that much (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Mental Health Parity Law Allows Discrimination to Continue

Thank You David Bowie

Don't Go Down Without A Fight

Mother Clucker - The Wrath of Mom

The Earthquake Within Our Own Borders

Would You Do This To Your Grandmother?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

While I agree with your point, it certainly strike... by Peter Warner on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 12:35:23 PM
I am being very specific about a very limited grou... by Ilene Flannery Wells on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 4:12:20 PM
Unless you are advocating rolling Medicaid into Me... by Ilene Flannery Wells on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 4:28:36 PM