2 min read

When are we going to get serious about treating mental illness??

At the desk, 8:09 a.m.

The United States spends over $500 per second, more than $8 billion dollars this year alone fighting the war on drugs.

In 2005, the US spent $5.2 million dollars on drug and alcohol abuse treatment. The FY budget proposes $9.2 billion spent on treatment and prevention. That's almost $9 billion less than will be spent disrupting other countries in the war on drugs.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, six percent of people have a serious mental illness. And yet, as mental health spending has decreased by 7% from 1995 - 2003.

Let's face it. If you have a mental health problem or a substance abuse problem in the US, that's YOUR problem.

If you were abused by friends or family or friends of family as a child or a wife or a gay man or in the military, that's YOUR problem.

You have to deal with your mental illness and substance abuse day in and day out to the chagrin and overwhelm of your family until you make it everyone's problem by shooting up places. People lose their children. A small metropolitan area has to live through another horrible nightmare. Everyone from the police officers to the folks working in the mall will feel the affect of this event for the rest of their lives.

And who's fault is it? Not the people who could have seen it coming, like in Fort Hood. Not the folks who ignored the problem and hoped it would go away, like at Columbine.

You act out your mental illness, it's  YOUR problem.

If you survive, you'll get arrested. You'll get charged. You'll get placed in one of the three maximum security prisons in Colorado at the tune of $48,000 or more dollars a year for the next fifty or sixty years.

And then it's OUR problem.

I'm not excusing people's behavior. We all make choices. Most people (statistics indicate it's more than 85%) who were abused, for example, don't kill anyone or abuse anyone. Most people with mental health and substance abuse problems don't hurt anyone else. Everyone has a chance to make a choice.

But when does the cost of ignoring severe mental health issues become to great?

When twelve people are killed by gunfire? When nine women are sexually assaulted by their training Sergeant?

When does the cost get so great that we get serious about treating mental illness?