Essay on Homeless and Deinstitutionalization

Decent Essays
Homeless and Deinstitutionalization

Deinstitutionalization- a term popularized in the mid fifties to early seventies, was an experiment involving the release of some 830,000 mental patients. By reducing state mental hospitals by 60%, this ideology was found very appealing by Liberals due to mental patients receiving their freedom (Website 1). It was also liked by conservatives because of the large amount of money that would be saved by cutting the mental health budget. A very debatable question arises when analyzing this, and the upsurge of homelessness. Is the increase of homelessness due to deinstitutionalization? I believe that homelessness is not a result of deinstitutionalization, but rather in the way it has been
…show more content…
First, observations of patients that spend a substantial amount of time in a hospital prove that one develops institutionalism. This is a syndrome characterized by lack of initiative, apathy, withdrawal, submissiveness to authority, and excessive dependence on the institution (Website 3). It has also been found that some of these reactions caused by external stimulation are qualities of the disease itself. One of the most important factors, that was disregarded by the simple minded individuals who helped bring about deinstitutionalization, is what left these mentally ill people unable to work, support themselves, cope with community, and ideally make them feel somewhat like a member of the community. These findings definitely support the drift theory, which states that upper class mentally ill will drift downward into lower class neighborhoods. This class transition then increases the rate of mental illness in that neighborhood.
Once released from an institution a mentally ill person, without the support of the community and much needed medication, might find themselves feeling very scared and threatened by interactions with the community. This leads us to another problem, which is crime and the mentally ill. About one thousand people in the U.S. are murdered by severely mentally ill people who are not receiving treatment. These killings are about 5% of all homicides nationwide, and help show once again how important it
Get Access