Fixing the Broken Mental Health System

October 13, 2014 2:54 PM

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Fixing the Broken Mental Health System

Martin was 20 years old when he was arrested for the second time. Responding to auditory hallucinations, his aggressive behaviors endangered people on the street and in his apartment building. While incarcerated at Rikers Island (New York City's now infamous jail, where thousands of others with serious mental illness reside), he received antipsychotic medication. When released, however, he discontinued the medication and became ill again, reoffended and ended up with a lengthy stay at an upstate prison. Life there fostered survival-based antisocial behaviors that would make community reintegration even more problematic upon release.

Louise developed schizophrenia at age 18. Her illness progressed. She refused mental health treatment, became disruptive at home, and was hospitalized on a general hospital psychiatric unit. After discharge she refused treatment and began living on the streets, moving from shelter to shelter. By the...

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