Decline of Mental Hospitals

Clayton Cramer takes a look at the capacity of our mental health system, and notes that even recently, there’s been a precipitous decline. I’m guessing this is because states are running out of other people’s money and turning mental patients out onto the street is an easy way to save money. One interesting thing to know would be to understand how mental health services compare in Europe. I don’t think you can use cross country comparisons to draw absolute and firm conclusions, but I do think they can be useful.

6 thoughts on “Decline of Mental Hospitals”

  1. As a member of the gun culture, I often find myself in the company of people on the right of the political spectrum, but this article makes a good point about our fellow first world nations, and I’ll likely be the lone voice of contrariness. Their healthcare systems work. Ours has serious problems.

    I don’t know if this shooter would have used a working mental health system if he had been given access to one. I also don’t know if he even had good insurance or not. I am aware of the cost to our society in not having such a system.

  2. I can’t recall where I saw it, but I have seen an article that showed a clear link in the increase of the homeless population and decrease in the number of people committed to mental institutions.

    I do not know if forcibly holding people in mental institutions would stop mass killings. But, based on that article and work I did in college, I do believe it would decrease the homeless population.

  3. Carter closed the vast majority of the true mental institutions during his administration. I wrote a report in skool (many years ago) and noticed a pretty hefty spike in crime after that happened and it has never recovered.

  4. Canada did much the same thing at the same time (with some truly gruesome results: Google for the cannibal on the bus) and Europe is following in our path. Unsurprisingly, Europe has lots of similar random mass murders, in spite of generally more restrictive gun control laws.

    And money wasn’t the motivation for closing the mental hospitals. It was ideology.

  5. I understand that the former Soviet Union had an extensive and well-used mental health system, often used to house those who exhibited their mental illness by criticizing the regime.

    So they had that going for their system, I guess….

  6. The best description I ever heard of what’s wrong with American politics was this, “Democrats don’t know how to run a business, and Republicans don’t like to pay for maintenance.” There are basic expenses that have to be borne collectively for society to function. These have increased through time as our ability to provide them has; for instance, 200 years ago there was much less understanding of mental illness than now, so they have an excuse for not doing it that we don’t. Our only excuse for not paying for the needs of the most vulnerable among us comes down to one: we don’t feel like paying for it. But, we do anyway, one way or another.

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