A recent RH line call suggested we bus our homeless to Denver. We might want to re-think that strategy.
Consider who makes up the homeless. From what I’ve read, the majority are suffering from either mental problems and/or addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Voters have a chance this fall to raise money for a mental health facility. If we’re really serious about addressing homelessness, we need to start addressing the reasons people become homeless. They don’t just one day decide they wantto be homeless. It’s the old idea: you can pay me now or you can pay me later. Let’s pass the measure.
But we also need to work on how we deal with the mentally ill. Currently it’s almost impossible for families to help loved ones when mental counseling is needed. Too often privacy laws get in the way.
Even when a loved one gets into a facility, even when families have power of attorney, all it takes is for the patient to say they want to be released. We’re told that we need to show that the patient is a danger to themselves or others to keep them hospitalized. But when the institution won’t even take or return phone calls that becomes an impossible hurdle.
I speak from experience; this process can go on for years. Prescription drugs can be taken — or not. Appointments with doctors and counselors can be kept — or not. If they do make it to a hospital, the one with the mental problem gets to decide when treatment stops. Does that make sense?
All too often when someone with mental issues turns to violence we hear, “Why wasn’t anything done?” Isn’t it time we allow doctors and families to alert authorities about mental problems? It’s past time that we all do something.