While the media focuses on gun control proposals, there are serious mental health reform proposals being formulated as well.
One such proposal comes from Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. A particular aspect of it caught my eye:
Preserve sufficient hospital beds for persons with serious mental illness who need hospital access. Believe it or not, this is controversial. The mental-health industry wants the public to believe everyone with mental illness can function in the community. This is letting wishful thinking trump science. Most can, many cannot. Beds are needed for those who cannot.
I personally know this is controversial. As a legislator, I served on a mental health reform committee. As part of our study, we toured Iowa's cavernous--and mostly empty--mental health facilities.
Why empty? Because policy makers made a deliberate choice to attempt to treat mental health patients on an outpatient basis. We believe this is compassionate. When we debated this approach on the floor of the Senate, one legislator literally described mental health homes using images straight out of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."
Note that the proposal says many cannot function in the community. These groups of people comprise a significant number of the "homeless" population. People become homeless when their families literally give up on attempting to take care of them. In some instances, these families buy a bus ticket for a mentally ill family member and send them to a nearby city.
The homeless man or woman then attempts to stay at shelters or Christian housing organizations but is soon denied a bed because they are a danger to others.
Just as it should not be assumed that a mental ill person should be confined to a bed, it should also not be assumed that every mentally ill person can function in society. This proposal offers some real, pragmatic solutions to real problems.