mental health and the media

The big news in the Bay Area is that a mother threw her three children into the Bay. She is a schitzophrenic who heard voices, and was living with her children in a shelter.

Naturally we will be treated to same media handwringing about how serious mental illness is and why care not cash will force people like this woman to take her medication. “Is it appropriate to use insanity as a defence if you know you’re insane and should be taking your medicine?” people will ask. Some will opine on the need for reforms in the penal code, and others will wax lyrical about how horrific crimes like these are a sign of social order breaking down.

An interesting perspective can also be found at Angry Black Bitch (via Allie). Nobody will address the endemic problems with the health care system in the US, let alone the mental health care system. Many people have the same attitude towards mental health as they do towards disability, or caring for an extremely elderly relative. They just don’t realize how hard it is, and can’t fathom or refuse to fathom how those people who need help end up cut loose from their families or support net.

Come to think of it, the problem is two-edged. On the one hand, they blame the families of the mentally ill for not taking care of them. But then when this mentally ill person does something bad, they want to blame the person. It’s far easier to blame people than institutions, I guess.