Although mentally-ill people are statistically no more violent than people without mental illnesses, they continue to be stigmatized as “dangerous” and “threatening.” The media only perpetuates this myth by turning mentally- ill people as innately violent when in reality it has more to do with personality. In an MSNBC article conveniently entitled: “Mentally-ill Endanger Nursing Home Patients: They’re sharing space with elderly– sometimes with tragic consequences,” it talks about how young adults are being placed in nursing homes. This article not only perpetuates the stereotype of the mentally-ill as violent, but it also grossly oversimplifies and ignores the different functions as well as types of nursing homes.
For instance, not to mention Development and Rehabilitation nursing homes, there are IMDs–or Institutions for Mental Diseases–where more than half of residents have a primary diagnoses of mental illness. In reality, the only reason why putting mentally-ill people into nursing homes should be considered dangerous is because it ultimately prevents mentally-ill people from getting a community based care, and integrating themselves into an environment where they have the opportunity to function normally. Yet, since this comprehensive community care plan fails to exist, nursing homes are the only places to offer continuous care for severely mentally-ill people. I am not saying this is right, I am saying this is how it is– and, therefore, what needs to be changed.
With over 12,000 persons with mental illnesses according the University of Chicago Law School, we as a country have a very crucial issue at hand. The issue of providing community-based care to the mentally-ill continues to be put on the back-burner because of how our health system is centered around physical health rather than mental health. Since they go intricately hand-in-hand, mental health needs to be treated just like any other medical condition. Yet, since we don’t want to know what we think we can’t understand, people suffering from mental illness continue to be also be separated as “nuts, wackos, and psychos.” With 26.2 percent of Americans suffering from mental disorders according to the NIMH, if we don’t suffer ourselves then we certainly have a loved one–whether family or friend–that does. Ultimately, mental illness is not a disability, but a hopeful push for an understanding we eventually all share.