Mental illness and criminology often get merged. As well, police reports are often inaccurate and biased as they view what has happened through the eyes of criminality. While a person suffering from a major mental illness may engage in dangerous behavior and even commit crimes while under the influence of their disease, these people often are kind and have good hearts. They are struggling with a disease that is stronger than their will, stronger than their intentions to create a good life, stronger than their ability to manage their emotions and behavior.
Those with severe mental illness need support once they begin the recovery process. We live in a culture without a good understanding of mental illness, nor a true safety net for those who are mentally ill. It often takes years before someone with mental illness has done enough damage to their lives and others that they are effectively diagnosed. Instead, they often end up in the prison system.
Instead of judging them, criminalizing them and essentially throwing the baby out with the bath water, it would be best if, once that person has accepted that they do not have control of their disease, they receive the treatment and support they need to fulfill their purpose, their dreams and become productive members of our society.
Jennifer Lehr, LMFT