By Doug Olsen, PhD, RN, associate professor, Michigan State University College of Nursing, and AJN contributing editor. Olsen regularly addresses topics related to nursing ethics.
There are many good reasons to provide better mental health care in the United States; however, the prevention of mass murder is not one of them.
Mental disorders involve great suffering, and many people who could find some relief through treatment either don’t receive it in a timely fashion or never receive it at all. After the large psychiatric hospitals of the mid-20th century discharged their patients in waves of deinstitutionalization starting in the 1970s, many of the resources that were promised to support these people in the community never materialized. In recent decades, many persons with mental disorder have ended up in the prison system, often for minor offenses, where treatment, if received at all, can be harsh and inadequate. (See: Early, P. (2006). Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness). A
Adequate resources to support all persons with serious and persistent mental illness in the community would prevent and alleviate a tremendous amount of suffering. We know these patients exist; we know that community […]