Anyone who has been reading national news headlines lately is painfully aware of what appears to be a spike in mass tragedies across the country. In many cases, the victims and suspects are relatives or acquaintances. In other cases, such as the recent deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, the 23-year-old perpetrator had delusions that caused him to target Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. Although we don’t know for certain the motives behind all of these recent violent attacks, mental illness is sadly often an underlying cause.
We, as a nation, cannot afford to continue to push mental health care into the background. Many states have made massive budget cuts over the past years that negatively impact mental health care and treatment.
Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we provide treatment for the mentally ill who have been living on the streets and now seek shelter and food at our facilities. Often, their mental illness has led to their homelessness, and left untreated the illness tends to worsen because of the person’s circumstances. Some homeless individuals have “dual diagnosis,” meaning they have a mental illness as well as an addiction. It is impossible for these clients to become productive citizens again without the proper mental health care.
DRMM’s caring doctors, nurses, counselors and case managers are dedicated to restoring our clients’ dignity and respect. We treat them like human beings, no matter where they came from and no matter what circumstances led to their homelessness. We care for them, surround them with love, show them there is hope, give them that hope, and show them the path to reaching their goals.
Granted, a lot of the responsibility lies within them. Whether it is sticking to treatment regimens or having the willpower to say no to drugs and alcohol, these individuals must make up their minds to do what it takes to make a positive change in their lives.
Although statistics show a strong relationship between homelessness and mental illness, let me be perfectly clear: Everyone suffering from mental illness is not violent. In fact, the majority are no threat to anyone other than themselves.
Nevertheless, we cannot turn our backs on them.