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Mental Illness is a not a Crime but a Disability!

posted Oct 12, 2012, 7:27 AM by S. Wickelgren   [ updated Oct 28, 2012, 7:55 PM ]
Mentally ill individuals are not criminals. They are victims and sufferers of an illness who need an open-minded community to embrace and help them recover and escape from the dark room of insanity.

Police officers are part of the front lines of the mental health care team. This places a huge responsibility on these officers because skills like proper training, education about illnesses, and understanding those with mental disabilities must be possessed in order for them to deal with clients effectively.

Ideally, police officers must not be the first person to handle mentally ill clients. They can be partners but not necessarily the first response. We have medical professionals specializing in mental health who are trained to deal with mentally ill individuals. They know what these people are going through, how they behave, and how to handle them.

The following points may mislead us from how we view and deal with the mentally ill clients:

  • Mentally ill people are considered harmful and criminals. This notion creates fear in us in facing mentally ill individuals. However, we should also think that not all of them need to be isolated from the community. Some of them suffer from depression and need a solid support group to help them gain energy and fight against their depression.
  • The community lacks understanding of the illness. We tend to put a barrier between us and the mentally ill individual without even knowing what is happening. We don’t even understand their illness and the reasons for their suffering. We are simply creating hasty generalization, but the truth is that most of them are harmless, especially those who are depressed. You may need extra precautions when you are dealing with paranoid and aggressive clients.
  • Lack of mental health care officers to handle the cases. A lot of mental health professionals are experts in dealing with clients suffering from mental illness. Psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and nurses have specialized training in doing these tasks that can surely help in the intervention and prevention process.
Mentally ill patients already have too much to deal with from their situations. Instead of showing them acts of rejection, why not embrace them as a normal person and deal with them as if nothing were wrong? It doesn't take very much from you to choose to help.