President Donald Trump may not be in support of “Medicare for All,” but his mind is definitely on health care in America.
After the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, Trump addressed the issue of mental health in America, lamenting the fact that a large number of mental health institutions across the United States were closed several decades ago.
A Big Mistake
Trump has put significant weight behind the premise that mass shootings are often being carried out by individuals suffering from serious mental health issues — and though these individuals may never have been formally diagnosed, the president believes their issues are significant enough to drive them to acts of violence.
A recent FBI study actually backs up this claim, making the point that even though many mass shooters have not been diagnosed as mentally ill, the majority of them displayed troubling behaviors prior to carrying out their attacks.
On the lack of resources and assistance for such individuals, Trump stated, “If you look at the ’60s and ’70s, so many of these institutions were closed…and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets…and that was a terrible thing for our country.”
He went on: “But a lot of our conversation has to do with the fact that we have to open up institutions. We can’t let these people be on the streets.”
Sadly, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a little too realistic for what was happening in many mental institutions throughout the country in decades past.
It is estimated that 450,000 Americans were housed in mental institutions during the 1940s, and though the care they received was meant to be therapeutic, the practice of psychotherapy was still in its infancy, with much yet to be learned.
By the mid-1950s, more than 100,000 patients were being treated in mental institutions, and as the therapies undertaken at such facilities became more controversial, more scrutiny was paid, eventually resulting in widespread closings.
Today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000 people reside in mental health hospitals, and institutionalizing emotionally unstable people is seen by many as taboo.
But President Trump is right: something has to be done about the mental health crisis in this country.
If not, tragedies like those we’ve seen across the country in recent weeks will become even more commonplace.