An arresting and moving piece in the New York Times about mental illness and treatment in America. Jeneen Interlandi talks about her own family’s experiences with this issue, as her father has bipolar disorder. Anyone who’s been a caretaker for someone with mental health problems can relate to the stress and confusion felt by Interlandi and her family. Laws vary from state to state, and there are so few options available for mental health care, especially for those who haven’t displayed extreme violence. Interlandi writes:
“But extreme violence is not the only thing families like mine worry about. We worry that our loved ones will themselves fall victim to violent crimes, or accidental disasters, if they are left out in the streets while they are sick and delusional. We also worry that without involuntary treatment, they might not recover.”
It’s sad that so many people who could use serious mental health help aren’t getting the kind of resources they need, and are left vulnerable to the kind of threats Interlandi describes. I’m sure that part of the problem is that mental health issues and treatments can vary so much from person to person. It’s a problem that requires so much more support than it’s getting now.
Part of Queen of the Air deals with mental illness in the family and how hard it is to talk about that issue. I hope that more people get to talking about it and learning about it so we can demand more resources for those struggling with mental health problems and the people who care for them.
Make sure to read the whole article; it’s on the long side, but it’s really worth it.