Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post, Hating the Haters I talked about my experiences with people who want to scapegoat people like gays, the poor and the disabled for our bad economy and also for natural disasters, such as hurricane Sandy. These people are religious zealots who believe that if the nation “gets right with God” everything will be magically fixed. I think people like this are gaining a voice because, quite frankly, no one knows how to get out of the economic crisis we are in. It is easy to fall for the idea that if we get rid of certain people’s voices then we will gain God’s favor. Of course things are never that simple, but people will grab for anything when they are drowning, even an anchor that will ultimately drag them to the bottom of the sea.

I have some strong opinions about that approach and I may offend some people. I believe this attitude is no different from what led to Nazi Germany.  A whole nation was seduced into the idea that all their problems would be solved if they got rid of the Jews.

Now I am not saying that we are like the Nazis. Thank God we still have liberty in this country. What I am saying though is that what happened in Germany didn’t start with Hitler. It started with individual attitudes of anger, fear and hate and Hitler mirrored back to them what they wanted to hear.

Having both physical and mental disabilities I am especially concerned about the backlash against the poor and disabled.  While there are some genuine freeloaders out there the rest of us should not be attacked for the wrong-doings of others. I was especially upset with a woman I talked to recently online who thought it was perfectly okay to leave the homeless mentally ill on the streets.  Not only that, she considered all disabled people as being parasites. Having worked with mental health consumers for seven years I have seen miracles happen for these people. The organization I worked with, Mental Health America, is non-profit and receives government money that helps get the mentally ill housing, mental health care, disability, peer support and for those who are able, jobs. Both they and the state Department of Mental Health work closely with the state Department of Rehabilitation to help put the disabled mental health consumers back to work.

The state Department of Rehabilitation is a key tool for helping anyone who has a disability to find a job, not just mental health consumers. They do assessments of a person’s capabilities, both mental and physical. They can help place someone with an employer who is willing to work around that person’s disability. They may also pay for job-training classes.

While many claim that assistance from the government only breeds dependency, these programs actually work! 

Not only do they work, but they save the taxpayers money!

How? Because the indigent mentally ill end up in hospitals over and over again. They can’t afford medications so as soon as they are released they stop taking them, ensuring that they will have a relapse. Since the law requires that they have to be held if they are a danger to themselves or to others they have to be admitted regardless of their ability to pay.

Guess who pays the costs. That’s right. THE TAXPAYERS!!!

Doesn’t it make more sense to help these people out and prevent them from having to go to the hospital in the first place?

But even if people don’t buy this argument, it still comes down to simple human decency. Nobody’s life is worthless!  When some Christians claim that the disabled are just leeches on society, I wonder what Bible they are reading because that sure isn’t in mine.