Sunday, February 16, 2014

Welcoming our mentally ill neighbors

Just a few weeks ago I was up in Ashland Wisconsin, helping to clean-up the estate of my older brother, Phil.  He passed away this fall from kidney failure, related to the medication he had taken to treat schizophrenia.  I was touched to visit with three of his neighbors, all of whom had glowing comments to share about Phil.  One of his next door neighbors had even returned the favor of snow removal after my brother's death, recalling how he had often helped his young family out with such acts of kindness.

So, it was disturbing to read an article, Fear and hostility block treatment for mentally ill.  People in he suburb of Golden Valley shared their fear and anxiety of allowing a day treatment facility for young people suffering from mental illness be built in their neighborhood.  What these fearful neighbors didn't seem to recognize is that the vast majority of people with mental health problems are not violent. Only 3-5 percent of violent acts are committed by people with a serious mental illness (Mental Health Myths and Facts).  Sadly, persons with mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than those in the general population.

Somewhat ironically it may those who are protesting a possible treatment center in their neighborhood that we should be most concerned about.

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