It’s No Way to Treat Mental Disorders

01 Apr

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental disorders occur at high rates in all countries of the world. It is estimated that, worldwide, more than 450 million people suffer from mental or behavioral disorders.  In fact, in the U.S., one in 4 adults and one in 5 children suffer from some form of behavioral disorder.  And the WHO acknowledges that those disorders are disproportionately high in prison populations.  I’ve read some studies that report the ratio of mental disorders in prison is significantly  higher than in the general population.

The increase of mental disorders in prisons may have begun with the push for deinstitutionalization in the early 1960s.   Advocates of deinstitutionalization hoped it would result in the mentally ill living more independently with access to community mental health programs.  Funding for such health programs did not materialize and states reduced their budgets for mental hospitals. Ultimately, there was no replacement for the institutions resulting in hundreds of thousands of people with mental disorders being released into the communities with no access to mental health care.

So while closing mental institutions has been heralded as a step forward for mental health, it has actually led us to a place where we, once again, cage the mentally ill – this time in prisons rather than hospitals.  Prisons have become a dumping ground for people with mental illness.

Mental disorders are further exacerbated by the stress of imprisonment and are very often not treated during incarceration. Prisons are simply bad for mental health.  Overcrowding, various forms of violence, solitary confinement or conversely, lack of privacy, separation from loved ones, lack of meaningful activity and inadequate health services, especially mental health services, in prisons can cause mental disorders to manifest themselves where they were previously undetected.

Surveys show 1 in 4 adults in this country have a mental disorder.  It has been reported that over half of all American prisoners (up to three fourths of females) suffer from a mental health problem.  Most of the approximately 2.2 million American prisoners will be coming back to their neighborhoods and few of them will have been improved by the experience of incarceration.

A major sponsor of the WMF Conference is The Luv U Project, a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to turn an unacceptable tragedy into a quantifiable agenda and responsible actions that advance the understanding of, and treatments for, mental health issues.  The organization was formed in memory of Carolyn Mattingly, who was, for years, a key member of the WMF Steering Committee.  On September 30, 2014, Carolyn’s life was abruptly, violently, and senselessly ended.  In memoriam of Carolyn and as a tribute to her goodness, The Luv u Project was established as a lasting commitment from her husband, daughter, family, and friends to continue her legacy. Carolyn cared deeply about the WMF initiative and through The Luv u Project her support continues.

The Luv u Project will match contributions, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $5000 to support the 2016 WMF Conference. If you would like to make a gift, please MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO  NAWJ  (PLEASE NOTE “MCIW: WOMEN MOVING FORWARD” ON REFERENCE LINE OF CHECK.)

                       C/O RACHAEL CAMPBELL
                      1352 CHARWOOD ROAD, SUITE C 
                       HANOVER, MARYLAND 21076
The National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ)  is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization — FED TAX ID: 52-1185005.



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