THE TRIANGLE OF DISPAIR: A Stain of Disgrace on America

THE TRIANGLE OF DISPAIR: A Stain of Disgrace on America

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Mental Illness, Incarceration and Quality of Life (Homelessness), a vicious cycle, occurring all too frequently.

Does it begin with mental illness, something beyond the individual’s control? Or created by one’s environment? Or by the imbalance, inequitable economic system? Or the various faults of the Justice System? Does it make a difference how it starts?

Mental illness, a disease not of ones making. A disease of genetics or one created, exacerbated by the outside stress on the human mind. Mental illness, affects mind, body and soul. As well as how we love, those who love us, and the entire community.

The Justice System, the lack of quality housing and accessibility, the mental health system and medical industry, our education institute, any single or the combination of these necessities add to recidivism, add to the destruction of hope, potential, health and destroys dignity. Is it the entire bureaucratic formation? Is it the lack of structural integrity, fairness, time and money? Is it ignorance or just lack of caring for the least?

How can society be made aware, understand how one medical bill, a month without work – do you pay for food or rent or medication for yourself, spouse or children? It should not be! But segments of our nation are so afraid of the word ‘socialism’, that the very tenants of the New Testament are ignored. This ignorance is destroying lives.

Our society is short-sighted, seeking only short term ‘solutions’ which only increases and passes the problems (and cost) toward the future. We try to hide this unseen cost of economics, jobs lost, families separated, lives ruined, without proper treatment. Society refuses, cannot see how long solutions, involving various treatments of medication, therapy term, education benefitseveryone.

The loss of hope
The loss of one’s Soul
The loss of one’s Spirit
The loss of what could have been
The loss of life’s value, of being true.
Because of ignorance and selfish-ness
What must be done to have others see
Of what could be?

Imperfection is in all of us, so why do we not accept others’ differences? Understand other’s struggles? We all fail at times. We all have success at times. But we can never do either alone.

Now there are less hospital beds, less hospitals, less treatment centers. What if, cancer center closed? What if you had to with pain and no were to turn? What is prisons were had more beds for your illness than hospitals?

“1.2 million individuals living with mental illness, sit in jail and prison each year. Often their involvement with the criminal justice system begins with low-level offenses like jaywalking, disorderly conduct, or trespassing. In 2015, The Sentencing Project ranked the states based on the number of people incarcerated in state prison per 100,000 residents.2 Comparing state-by-state rates of incarceration with the access to mental health care ranking shows a strong positive correlation between rates of adult who are in the criminal justice system and lack of access to mental health care (r =.69, p=000). The states with less access to mental health care have more adults who are in the criminal justice system. Six out of 10 of the states with the least access to mental health care also have the highest rates of incarceration. These states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and Florida”

 

The chart, see linked, shows the ranking of states based on the rate of adult incarceration (per 100,000 people).

Prison Legal News

“In 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that 14 percent of prisoners in state and federal facilities met the criteria for having serious mental health conditions. In local jails the number was 26 percent. Only five percent of the general population meets those criteria, according to the BJS. Mental illness also affects a higher percentage of female prisoners than males.

According to federal data, 40 percent of prisoners were diagnosed with a mental health disorder between 2011 and 2014. Every year two million people with psychological problems are jailed, based on estimates by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A 2016 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that mentally ill prisoners stay locked up longer, cost more to house and are more likely to commit suicide and be placed in solitary confinement.”

The Treatment Advocacy Center

The Magnitude of Psychiatric Bed Shortage Using 50 public psychiatric beds per 100,000
population as a minimum, it is possible to compare the present bed capacity in each state with the minimum needed. The results are shown on Figure 1. The states can be divided as follows:

Critical bed storage (less than 12 beds per 100,000 population) Nevada‡ 5.1 Ohio 10.6

Without access to hospital care, acutely ill individuals deteriorate, families and caregivers buckle under stress, ERs fill with acutely ill patients waiting for a bed to open and police and fire responders find themselves increasingly diverted to mental health calls. By 2014, 10 times more people with serious mental illness were in prisons and jails than in state mental hospitals, a circumstance widely attributed to the shortage of beds to provide timely treatment.

Health care costs. Peterson-KFF

On a per capita basis, health spending has increased over 31-fold in the last four decades, from $353 per person in 1970 to $11,582 in 2019. In constant 2019 dollars, the increase was about 6- fold, from $1,848 in 1970 to $11,582 in 2019.”

“The United States spends significantly more on healthcare than comparable countries, and yet has worse health outcomes.”
“In 2018, the U.S. spent nearly twice as much on health per person as comparable countries ($10,637 compared to $5,527 per person, on average).”

pexels-photo-4170629
Photo by Koshevaya_k on Pexels.com

“The largest category of health spending in both the U.S. and comparable countries was spending on inpatient and outpatient care, which includes payments to hospitals, clinics, and physicians for services and fees such as primary care or specialist visits, surgical care, and facility and professional fees (see Methods for more details). Americans spent $6,624 per person on inpatient and outpatient care while comparable countries spent an average of $2,718 per person, a difference of $3,906 per person. Patients in the U.S. have shorter average hospitals stays and fewer physician visits per capita, while many hospital procedures have been shown to have higher prices in the U.S Similarly, many prescription drugs cost more in the U.S. than the same drugs do in other comparable nations. When we look at drugs treating different diseases, we find that certain drugs treating arthritis, blood clots, HIV, and more were found to be higher in the. U.S. than in comparable countries. In 2018, the U.S. spent $1,397 per capita on prescription drugs and other medical goods (including over-the-counter and clinically-delivered pharmaceuticals as well as durable and non-durable medical equipment) while comparable countries spent $884 per capita on average, a difference of $513. The Trump administration has introduced various proposals to reduce prescription drug pricing – including an international pricing model that would benchmark certain prices in Medicare to those of comparable countries – however, most of the plans have not yet been implemented. Even if per capita prescription drug pricing is lowered and closer to that of comparable countries, that difference would make only a dent in the overall difference in health spending.”

Building on the success of Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in detention reform, we are intensifying efforts to reduce the number of youth placed into correctional institutions and other residential centers.

We need mord grassroots organizations like The National Alliance on Mental Illness, idedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

About the Author

Glenn Slabby B.S, MFA

He writes freelance for various publications and also works part-time at the New Rochelle Public Library and at St. Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital in Harrison, N.Y. where he receives therapy, works with other consumers and gives orientation classes on the patient’s perspective of mental illness for new employees.
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