WESTBOROUGH, MA January 30, 2017 Criminal behavior and mental health issues are not mutually exclusive. Culpability does not end when someone becomes afflicted with a mental health illness. People remain personally responsible for their actions even when depressed or anxious or when they have ADHD or some other problem. The pendulum now swings toward treatment for mental illness and away from incarceration for those so afflicted. Given the current awareness of the large percentage of inmates that suffer with mental illness a growing consensus of researchers are appalled that little treatment seems to occur for those living behind bars.
There is a growing push to circumvent incarceration for those with mental illness although the personal responsibility for treatment is too often overlooked. As I have said in other posts the person with mental illness almost always denies he or she has a problem. As a result, those most at risk are frequently lost to treatment and fail to follow through with therapy and prescribed medication. Who is responsible for the failure to follow a plan of treatment? There must be some accountabilty by the individual and his family to stick with the recommended treatment. Substance abuse starts with a 12-step recovery program that are available in every city and town. Only then can treatment for mental health needs be effectively addressed.
There is a strong likelihood of substance abuse for those who go without mental health treatment raising the specter of violence associated with comorbid substance abuse and mental health problems.
Who is responsible for providing treatment for the thousands of inmates said to be suffering with mental illness – many of them in isolation with little hope or support? Care for the mentally ill remains with providers who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous and mental diseases. The police encounter unstable people on a nightly basis. These encounters are made exponentially worse by drugs and alcohol ingested by citizens. Also on a nightly basis.
“The underpinnings of violence are often present in some form or another whether or not someone has a mental illness ” according to Michael Sefton, Director of Psychological Services at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Westborough, MA.