A basis moral test for our or any society is how the most vulnerable members are treated. Our society is flawed by a widening gap in health care and services between the rich and the poor. We look to the story of the Last Judgment which instructs us to put the need of the vulnerable first -
. . . Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will day to them in reply, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. (Mt. 25:37-40)
Prisons and Jails
Prisons and Jails have become the largest delver of mental health services in the Unites States.
At midyear 2005 more than half of all prison and jail inmates had a mental health problem, including 705,600 inmates in State prisons, 70,200 in Federal prisons, and 479,900 in local jails. These estimates represent 56% of State prisoners, 45% of Federal prisoners, and 64% of jail inmates.
Very few prisoners in general prison and jail populations receive the treatment they need
Over 1 in 3 State prisoners and 1 in 6 jail inmates when had a mental health problem had received treatment since admission.
Deinstitutionalization of public "mental hospitals" created an increase in homelessness because of poorly funded community programs.
Lack of an array of services and affordable housing in the community adds to the mental health crises.
At least 20 to 25% of homeless have a mental illness. Mental illness among people who are homeless is generally acknowledged as much higher.