Monday, July 14, 2008

Mental Illness Across the Pond

News about mental illness knows no boundaries.  In recent weeks headlines about severe mental illnesses have dominated the news in Australia, Canada, Thailand, and now in Great Britain.  In each instance, the story is much the same as it is in the U.S. 

“Our prison population is at its highest ever’” reports the United Kingdom’s Guardian . “Of the 82,000 prisoners in England and Wales, it is estimated that nine out of 10 have one or more mental health disorders. Yet mental healthcare in prisons is widely overlooked as being a problem in the justice system, with overcrowding and high costs trumping mental health for column inches.”

You can almost see the writing on the wall.  In many respects, our friends across the pond seem determined to repeat some of the same mistakes made in the U.S.

Many of the parallels can be drawn from Dr. E. Fuller Torrey’s latest book, The Insanity Offense.  As this book chronicles how America’s failure to treat the seriously mentally ill was based on the best of intentions, perhaps it should be required reading for mental health advocates in the U.K. so they won’t repeat the same mistakes.