Unfortunately, the typical exposure to mental illness for most Americans comes via tragic mass shootings or highly publicized celebrity mental breakdowns. However, the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent murderers or hyper-tweeting celebrities. Rather, they are the ordinary, everyday people that make up the tens of millions of American adults suffering from some form of mental illness. The American mental health system has a lamentable history. The initial policy of locking up mentally ill individuals in jails transitioned to a system of confinement in asylums that quickly became notorious for their poor living conditions and treatment. The mid-twentieth century then saw a dramatic shift to a policy of deinstitutionalization, which produced an underfunded, and essentially non-existent, system of community-based care that left mentally ill individuals without access to treatment and thrust many into homelessness and the criminal justice system. Fortunately, the American mental health system has seen some positive changes in recent years such as the adoption of more lenient involuntary commitment laws in certain states as well as the development of mental health court systems that aim to divert mentally ill individuals from prisons into treatment programs. This Note argues that the persistent stigmatization of the mentally ill remains the most significant roadblock to a fully effective mental health system and proposes various strategies to reduce stigmatization in the United States.
Justin L. Joffe,
Don't Call Me Crazy: A Survey of America's Mental Health System,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol91/iss3/12