Tragedy within tragedies

Sarah Lentz, Staff Writer

Why is it that the only time there seems to be a mass discussion about the lack of care for mentally ill citizens, is in the aftermath of tragedy?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the U.S. suffer from some sort of mental illness in a given year. The truth is that this is not an insignificant number of people, but the lack of available and affordable care is significant.

For some reason we have an aversion to talking about this. The mental health care system is underfunded, understaffed and overly complicated. If almost 44 million Americans will experience some sort of issue this year, don’t we owe it to ourselves and each other to reach more people suffering?

Our system, on the whole, is broken. The National Alliance on Mental Illness stated there are ten times more people suffering from an illness behind bars instead than in psychiatric hospitals.

This just simply won’t do.

Not only is this damaging the humanity of our nation, it’s hitting us in the pocketbook too. And let’s face it, many times, it takes a costs-benefits analysis to get anything to change in the land where cash is king.

Serious mental illness costs America over $193 billion on average per year according to the American Journal of Psychiatry and U.S. Surgeon General’s Report.

Last Sunday on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” this very issue was covered.

Oliver stated that politicians use our fumbling mental health system as a distraction from having to talk about gun control. While I think that that is partially true, I don’t see why we can only focus on one of those problems at a time.

They aren’t as linked as people think they are and as Oliver states in the clip, (which is easily found online) mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence—not the perpetrators.

They really are two separate issues and before we experience another school shooting, or shell out another $193 billion, we need to make the time to work towards solving both.