The problem we have here may be summed up with a word, and that word is paternalism. Just what do we mean by paternalism? According to Wikipedia:
Paternalism (or parentalism) is behavior, by a person, organization or state, which limits some person or group’s liberty or autonomy for that person’s or group’s own good. Paternalism can also imply that the behavior is against or regardless of the will of a person, or also that the behavior expresses an attitude of superiority.
I think the Oxford Dictionary definition a little more precise.
The policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates’ supposed best interest.
No question about it, suppressing insubordination can only serve the status quo. Of course, sooner or later the status quo grows old and boring, not to mention oppressive.
I bring this up because of the usual piece of propaganda I ran into the other day bearing the headline, Ohio has a ‘critical’ shortage of psychiatric hospital beds. Of course, Ohio can’t be said to have a ‘critical’ shortage of psychiatric hospital beds for those who think Ohio could use fewer psychiatric hospital beds.
Kinda like deja vu, don’t you think? Good thing for us the likes of Dorothea Dix are no longer around to stir a big problem very much bigger. We know psychiatric hospitals for the prisons and warehouses that they actually are rather than the hospitals that they, in fact, never were. No, instead we have the likes of Hannah Poturalski of Journal-News to aggravate matters. Do we really need to rediscover our reasons for closing big asylums in the first place? Certainly, it’s always possible to do so the hard way, by ignoring history and, thus, repeating it.
Among the typical misinformational drivel you get out of this kind of thing is the following tidbit.
In the U.S., one in four adults has a severe mental health need, but only a third of the affected population seeks out treatment.
Alright. When you’re looking for money, and you need a big problem, that means big numbers. Now if 25 % of the people in the continental USA are in need of medical treatment that is news. On the other hand, if you’re just inflating figures in order to drum up funding, that isn’t news. Sometimes the line between “severe” and non-existent is blurred to the max, that is, sheer fabrication. What, after all, is a “severe mental health need”? Oh, I know. It is whatever some hired “expert” says it is.
If 2/3s of 1/4 are not seeking treatment, what is the problem!? The problem is that said “expert” would impose treatment on the 2/3s not seeking treatment regardless of whether they want it or not. Do we, the question then becomes, achieve better “mental health” by forcing treatment on people who don’t want it? The next question is, are we really going to achieve better “mental health” in the country by not leaving well enough alone? I rather doubt that that’s the way it works.
Something to think about, 1/3 of 25 % is about 8 %. 8 % is a much more manageable figure. 8 % is, in fact, much closer to the 6 or 7 % estimation of people in the USA given serious “mental illness” labels. If you are going to conflate figures in such an exaggerated fashion, it is more than likely that Ohio, and any other state in a similar “crisis”, would do better to seek fewer beds rather than more. Yes, fewer beds and fewer patients to fill them.