The mentally ill should not be living among normal citizens. Dumping crazy people out of hospitals, saves mental health system money but increases overall cost to taxpayers by shifting care to more expensive jails and prisons. We’re talking one-third of the homeless population – 250,000 people – and half the prison population has a diagnosable mental illness and they are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.
The New York Times reported that in Berkeley, California, “on any given night there are 1,000 to 1,200 people sleeping on the streets. Half of them are deinstitutionalized mentally ill people. It’s like a mental ward on the streets.”
There are some very sick people living on the streets and in public shelters. Some hardly seemed to have the ability to cross the street safely. I believe that there are many, many homeless people who do not have the mental ability to take care of themselves and it would be a godsend if they at least had a facility where they could sleep and eat meals. Some shelters become known as havens for these ill wanderers and take on the appearance of a hospital psychiatric ward. Others who are psychiatrically ill live in the woods on the outskirts of cities, under bridges, and even in the tunnels that carry subway trains beneath cities.
The homeless population, especially homeless persons with serious mental illness, should be looked up. I’m suggesting we round these people up and put them safe spaces for people who need full-time support. Not everyone is equipped to live in the community – particularly not without a concerted effort on treatment first. And once a person has stabilized in a facility they can be moved to places that still offer support but also independence. We do this for people with addictions – sober living facilities – so where are the facilities for people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder?