Mental Health Crisis

Government fails the seriously mentally ill.

DJ Jaffe, a Contributor to City Journal, tells John Stossel that New York City mental health officials focus on the wrong things. “Ask any cop what we need, he’s going to say, ‘we need more hospitals, easier civil commitment so that when I bring somebody they’re admitted. We need to keep them on their medications so they don’t deteriorate.’ But when I go to a mental health conference, they go, ‘well, we have to educate the public. We have to fight stigma.'”

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NYC’s government spends $230 million a year on a program for the mentally ill called, “Thrive NYC.” Mayor se Blasio appointed his wife to run it. Instead of addressing serious mental illness, Jaffe says 80% of the funding goes to much less serious problems like stigma, anxiety and loneliness.

“Blurring the lines between various mild mental disorders such as anxiety or mild depression and Schizophrenia is not a bug. It’s a feature of the program,” says Stephen Eide, a Contributing Editor at City Journal. “The program is supposed to do that because it believes that the only way that New Yorkers will support improvements to mental illness policy is if they are convinced that everybody has a mental illness.”

Jaffe says Thrive NYC’s $230 million could provide housing and basic treatment to more than half the seriously mentally ill and homeless people in the city. Instead, they dig into dumpsters and languish in jails.

Eide adds, “We tend to think of ourselves as a very compassionate society. But a century from now, when people look at the situation with the seriously mentally ill, they’re going to look back on us and wonder how compassionate we really were.”