Yes, Virginia, there is life outside of the mental health system

One knows that the actions presented in a play are not, strictly speaking, reality. The conservative end of the mental health patient spectrum may have found their calling in the mental health field, but for the rest of us, it’s just not our calling. Expanding the mental health system bureaucracy, I will refrain, for the moment, from comparing it with a cancerous growth, is an aim that just has too little appeal in so many ways.

I guess I will be going against the grain of professional opinion when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. People are made into mental patients, they are not born that way. I would like to go further, and to say, as well, that people are made into mental health workers and professionals, they are not born that way either. I have a ghastly sinking feeling every time I consider people who think that “mental health” is the be all end all of existence.

There can be little doubt, in this day and age, that many social problems are being misconstrued health problems. Pretending that these social problems are health problems is not going to answer them, but it is going to make a big problem even bigger. How’s that, you might ask. Certain groups would now place the numbers of people needing the counsel of the mental health profession in the USA at slightly more than 1/4 of the number of people in the USA.

This problem is not new. The numbers of people being serviced by the mental health industry have been steadily rising since the middle of the 17th century when locking up people who were different first came into vogue. Should we say that 1/4 of the nation is in need of this service, well, obviously we’ve got the job security matter under wraps. We’ve gone so far as to convince approaching 1/4 of the population that there IS something fundamentally wrong with them.

Once upon a time, and this is no fairytale, these gigantic mental asylums were places where people were swept under the proverbial rug so to speak. Fast forward to 2015, if we are not warehousing people in warehouses, we are doing so in nursery schools for adults. Nursery schools are not exactly the places where people learn to be responsible adults. No, that’s way over there, beyond high school, when and if it comes. Here we have a bunch of adult toddlers playing at being adults in the hope of one day being adults.

Of course, as has been suggested, perhaps toddlerdom is their eternal mode of being. Some people do feel entitled, after all, every time a disability check lands in their mailbox. Who could blame them? Who, indeed, besides all those people sweating it out on a 9 to 5 throughout the work week? I guess no ability checks they might receive can compete with that one. Can you imagine? Money for nothing. Anyway, one is given that long pause in which to consider the variety of positions in which one could be buried.

The distance between acting and reality need not be so far that it can never be broached. The adult who acts like a toddler is not, all pretense aside, a toddler. One can clap, snap fingers, whatever, and still not dismiss the illusion. When the smoke clears, nobody needs to wait it out with the casualties. When the casualties are not casualties, all the more profound. There are realities in which playacting is not recognized as such. Such realities as are the meat and potatoes of bureaucrats. It is, I would hope, never too late to wise up. The sinking ship industry can get along without you.

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