Many of the nation’s most painful, perplexing problems stem from a common cause that few politicians and pundits are ready to acknowledge. The surge in suicides, the proliferation of homeless encampments, mass shootings in schools, and the opioid epidemic all connect to untreated mental illness.
Since the ’60s, we’ve embraced the ridiculous idea that everyone has a right to be crazy—no matter how destructive and dangerous your illness. Ironically, psychiatric advances provide a better chance to treat mental illness than ever before, but current law makes it difficult to provide the afflicted with the care they need. In 1955, 550,000 patients had been committed to state mental hospitals; today, the mentally ill are hospitalized at less than one-third the rate.
On this issue, even small government conservatives should support an aggressive new public/private effort to take psychiatric problems more seriously.