Unfounded Fear of Mental Health Facilities

holly hamilton

“I’m not going to feel as safe,” Hamilton said, referring to her concern over the pending presence of psychiatric patients in the neighborhood.   (Photo: The Enquirer/Patrick Reddy)

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.

13 thoughts on “Unfounded Fear of Mental Health Facilities

  1. We are all concerned about change aren’t we? Then it becomes even more difficult to accept when there is something we don’t really understand attached to it. And, of course there is always NIMBY – not in my back yard. If reason could surface amid our fears, we might realize it could be the safest place to be because these individuals are seeking help. 🙂 Keep stroking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We fear what we don’t understand. I grew up in a town that had the largest state hospital in the state. My dad was a social worker there, my step-mom was a nurse. Yes, kids made jokes about the residents, but no one ever thought there was a “danger” to the town or that it posed any threat or problem. After I left home, I heard more about these fears from people I met. I would ask them what exactly they were afraid of. Either they couldn’t say, or they would realize they were irrational fears based on movies and such.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is indeed fear based on ignorance, as a commenter above said. I remember being at a town board meeting several years ago when a group home for developmentally disabled residents was being proposed. There was all kinds of hand-wringing and fear-mongering. A representative of the agency buying the home for 5 residents put it very diplomatically — the residents’ objections were based on a “lack of information.” He invited them to come over and introduce themselves after the residents moved in. That pretty much shut them up. Similar situation here … lack of information. OK, ignorance. Good for you to keep the message out there, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Day in the Life: Wrap up of Summer Series | Shirley's Heaven

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