Early in 2014, Nicolas Kristof declared in his New York Times column that mental health was one of the most systematically neglected issues in the United States, given the fact the National Institutes of Health says a quarter of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder – depression, anxiety disorders, anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. All across the country are relatives and loved ones struggle with difficult psychiatric disorders.
In his second article, Kristof looks at the criminalization of mental illness. According to a 2006 Justice Department study, more than half of the prisoners in the U.S. have a mental health problem. Among female inmates, three-quarters have a mental disorder. With the closing of so many mental hospitals, prisons now take in schizophrenic, bipolar, depressive, and psychotic individuals brought to them by local police departments. In 1955, there was one bed in a psychiatric ward for every 300 Americans; in 2010, there was one for every 3,000 Americans. Some people now commit a crime just so they can get medication. Sadly, Kristof reports, mentally ill inmates are often preyed upon while incarcerated.