I came across an article in the Enquirer this morning about a woman and other members of her community who are concerned about the dangers a new mental health facility will pose to their community. It will mainly be an outpatient facility but will also have an inpatient facility for people who are having a psychotic episode.
Wow, I don’t even know what to say about this! I wish I had the chance to sit down with her and talk to her about these misguided fears that are based on nothing more than old stereotypes. Chances are she is already living in close vicinity to a person or persons with mental illness, and she doesn’t even realize it. Why? Because people with mental illness carry no greater risk than any other person in her neighborhood.
I would also like to tell her that having a mental health facility nearby may actually be a welcomed addition for the people in her neighborhood who could benefit from their services.
Her other concerns about increased traffic, noise, decreased property value, and construction delays seem to me to be a smoke screen to justify her own personal fears. Would she complain that much if it were a family medicine practice being built? I seriously doubt it. Did she complain that much when it was a nursing home?
I live across the fence from a huge retirement home and dementia facility, and the associated sounds of the parking lot, garbage trucks, ambulances coming and going, and employees laughing as they walk out to their cars are merely background noise that pose no threat to me. Neither would a mental health facility.
I wonder how she would feel if people said she needed to get rid of her dogs, because they might pose a risk to the community……
Whenever I grow weary of blogging about mental illness, I see something like this and remember the reason I must continue to get the message out there. Stop fearing what you don’t understand and have some compassion. People with psychotic episodes, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and other types of mood and brain disorders are not criminals. They, like anyone else, deserve to have adequate access to healthcare in their community. They deserve the same freedoms as everyone else.