To understand exactly how that breakdown occurs, I spoke with John Snook, the director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, which pushes for more robust mental-health treatment.
Basically, every angle that you can think of for looking at the system for getting someone care for mental illness is essentially broken in Florida. Snook: Each state has its own requirement. Snook: It is more difficult in those situations.
We have to invest. Khazan: What about involuntary commitment?
Worried about someone else's mental health
Snook: The simplest thing is we need to take mental illness seriously. When it comes to mental health, every single part of the system is broken. But in Pennsylvania, for example, the standard is, are you a clear and present danger?
Arizona [is an example of a state that] has started to do a good job of coordinating that continuum of care. The local mental-health agency will almost always have an emergency you can call. Law enforcement needs to off on those situations.
That, unfortunately, becomes something of a barrier [to] getting care. In a state like Florida, sheriffs are able to initiate the insaane process. That is obviously a simple place to start.
An edited transcript of our conversation follows. Snook: In some of these incidents, the man who shot up the Fort Lauderdale airportinsame example, that was an obvious case fpr serious mental illness. There are risk factors for violence that are pretty well-researched at this point, like prior episodes of violence, prior domestic-violence incidents. Olga Khazan: The suspect in this shooting seemed to have strange things he did that did not qualify as criminal, but were nevertheless concerning.
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You want to try to engage the family if you can. Those are the cases where people struggle to figure out answers. There are options for providing care to a person in the community. Khazan: What are the main things that need to be done to improve this situation?
What can people do if their loved one is, say, talking a lot about guns, or acting strangely, but not necessarily in a criminal way, and they want to get them into some sort of psychiatric treatment? About half the states have updated their standards to move to something more like a medical determination. Khazan: How would it work in a state that does fund mental-health care more generously?
Are there diagnoses other than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that could potentially lead to violence? If it looming like an emergency, call or your local mental-health professionals. To understand exactly how that breakdown occurs, I spoke with John Snook, the director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, which pushes for more robust mental-health treatment.
There are two sides to this. In Florida, the system is so starved that you really are only getting care through law enforcement.
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John Snook: The law is actually different in every state. None of them want to be spending their day [doing this]. They were too sick to understand they needed care, and the system completely shut us out. Because the system is so broken there, you will have sheriffs doing far more involuntary commitments than they do arrests for drunk driving or assault and battery. The family will oloking, once they turned 18, I lost them.