Americans don’t like to talk about mental health or mental illness. And, John Oliver makes the case that it’s time that we start rethinking how we talk about and treat people with mental illness. Oliver posits that our politicians principally focus on mental illness in the context of mass shootings, which is deeply misleading. People with mental illness are more often the victims of mass shootings than the perpetrators.
Oliver calls for a public discussion on mental illness. In 2013, an estimated 43.8 million adults suffered from mental illness, not including drug or alcohol-related disorders; 18.5 percent of the adult population. And, each year, 10 million Americans suffer from a serious mental illness. Notwithstanding, we have not properly funded community mental health centers. A few years ago CNN reported that some 125,000 young and middle-aged mental health patients are housed in nursing homes. And, 2 million people with mental illness go to state and local jails each year rather than to state-funded centers for psychiatric treatment.
We shouldn’t use the criminal justice system to treat the mentally ill. It is expensive, ineffective and dangerous.