Mentally Ill Are Locked Up: Where Are The Psychiatrists?
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 17, 2013
Today’s LA Times sheds light on the tragic situation in LA County, where the mentally ill are warehoused in the county jail. “3,200 people with a mental illness are behind bars (17% of the jail population),” Steve Lopez reports. Where are the psychiatrists in this discussion? We could ban together to talk about the need to rebuild our mental hospitals; the ones closed when Ronald Reagan was Governor of California. It is not clear to me why psychiatrists are not more involved in advocating for the mentally ill. The resources, in California, are so limited, and yet, what seems like a few years ago (30 or so), we had decent long-term psychiatric hospitals, such as Camarillo State Hospital, which gave the mentally ill a therapeutic community. We need to chime into this conversation so that we can remind the public that the brain influences behavior, and as such, treating brain disease, not just with medication, is a critical component to a civilized society. We need good systems of care which help people who cannot help themselves. Steve Lopez does a huge public service by bringing this to the media. Now, psychiatrists need to join him, by letting the public know that we care too.