About Mental Illness Policy Org.
Mental Illness Policy Org. is a “Think-Tank” founded in 2011 to provide unbiased and easy-to-access information to the media and policy-makers about care and treatment of people with serious and persistent mental illness. The issues facing people with serious and persistent mental illness are different from those with mental ‘health’ issues. Their needs often get lost in the larger dialogue. Being honest about this population requires addressing difficult issues like violence and involuntary treatment, issues many organizations prefer to avoid.
Mental Illness Policy Org. brings together the best research and insights from pro-psychiatry and anti-psychiatry writers and researchers around the world and synthesizes that into actionable policies designed to improve care, save money, and keep public and patients safer.
Difference between Mental Illness Policy Org and other organizations
Mental Illness Policy Org focuses on serious mental illness, not mental ‘health’. I,e, the 5-8% who are most seriously ill, mainly suffering from schizophrenia and treatment-resistant forms of bipolar disorder. Other organizations focus on the 50% of people they claim will have a diagnosable mental illness during their lifetime. Rather than dismissing ‘difficult’ issues, this site attempts to address them.
People with serious mental illness account for a disproportionate share of suicides, homelessness, violence, and incarceration.
- 2 million mentally ill go untreated
- One-third of mentally ill go homeless (200,000)
- 16% of incarcerated (300,000) have mental illness
- 1,000 homicides a year are committed by mentally ill
- 10-17% of seriously mentally ill kill themselves
- $15 billion is spent incarcerating mentally ill
- Random acts of violence by minority are tarring the majority.
Five Policies that Save Money, Improve Care, and Keep Public and Patients Safer
- Spend smarter: Spend on mental “illness” not mental “health”.
- Use Assisted Outpatient Treatment (court ordered outpatient treatment) for those with a history of violence dangerousness or multiple rehospitalizations due to noncompliance.
- Reform involuntary commitment laws so they prevent violence, rather than require it.
- Reform Medicaid law to preserve psychiatric hospitals (eliminate the IMD Exclusion)
- People found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity and unfit to stand trial should receive mandated treatment
Are people with mental illness more violent?
If you are talking about the 40-50% of Americans who may have a “diagnosable mental disorder”, then ‘no’, the mentally ill are not more violent than others.
If you are talking about the 5% of Americans with the most serious mental illnesses–primarily schizophrenia and treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, then ‘no’, the mentally ill are not more violent than others.
If you are talking about members of the 5% group who go off treatment that has previously prevented them from being psychotic, hospitalized, or violent, then ‘yes’ the mentally ill are more violent than others. This higher than normal rate of violence increases even more when these groups abuse substances. When people ask, “Are the mentally ill more violent”, they are usually asking about this group, the most seriously mentally ill.
What can make people with serious mental illness become violent?
Violence is almost always associated with going off treatment and becoming delusional or psychotic. There are many reasons people with serious mental illness go off treatment. Some reasons are not unique to mental illness while others are.
- The ability to regulate behavior is compromised because the brain is the organ affected.
- Anosognosia: Up to 50% of people with schizophrenia and many with bipolar lack insight: they are so sick they don’t know they are sick (anosognosia).
- Costs/Side Effects: Some refuse treatment because of costs, side effects, lack of support, etc.
- Civil Liberties: A misunderstanding of civil liberties, the nature of mental illness, combined with misinformation prevents us from mandating violence preventing treatments.
- Reaction to hallucinations and delusions. When people with serious mental illness act out, they are often doing so as a logical reaction to their delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. If you think someone is the Devil and trying to kill you, you will try to hurt them first.
- Misplaced Funding: Most money spent goes to mental ‘health’ not mental “illness”. People with serious mental illness are usually sent to the end of the line, rather than the front. The ability to get services is inversely related to need, therefore people with serious mental illness find it difficult to get services. Mental health providers often discriminate against highly symptomatic people with serious mental illnesss.
Almost everyone has issues with involuntary commitment and involuntary treatment. This site rather than saying “it’s a difficult issue” and dropping it, attempts to study the science and law to come up with policies that balance the right of patients to have freedom, their right to receive treatment, the public’s right to safety, and sound fiscal policy.
Maintaining Mental Illness Policy Org., advocating for people with mental illness is a labor of love. But it is expensive. Donations are appreciated.
DJ Jaffe: Founder
DJ Jaffe has a sister-in-law with schizophrenia and has been advocating for the seriously mentally ill since mid 1980s. Following are past positions.
- Metro-NewYork City Alliance for the Mentally Ill
- New York State chapter, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
- National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
- Co-founder with Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and others of the Treatment Advocacy Center
- Leadership council: National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.
His articles and recommendations have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, National Review, Forbes and others. He has appeared on numerous national news broadcasts explaining issues surrounding mental illness and violence.