In this podcast:
Street Outreach Worker at CHUM
Commentary from Dr. Carolyn Phelps
The problem of homelessness for those with serious mental illnesses is complex. It includes the fact that sometimes people with serious mental illnesses lack insight about their illness and at times therefore do not perceive a need for help, want help, reject help that is offered or stop taking their medication that can create for them a greater capacity to maintain some stability in their lives.
Some persons with serious mental illness also have felony criminal records which affect their ability to obtain housing as many landlords won’t rent to people with a felony background. We certainly need more dollars going to the effort and that means a willingness for all of us who can pay to be willing to pay – we show this willingness at least in part by who we elect to public office.
The “slippery slope of making it easier for people to get help that the University professor was referring to is the fact that for some people to get help we would need to force help legally. This used to be a far easier thing to do back in the fifties – and it was abused by some. So there is this balance between a person’s civil liberties and the ability to make our own decisions regarding getting help and putting processes in place that are for the “good of the person.” It’s a really tough issue.
I am fortunate enough to know Deb Holman. And I interviewed her and Eric Spaeth on my television show Speak Your Mind. You can access the show by going to speakyourmindonline.org and accessing the 10/27/ 2011 episode on Schizophrenia. Some of Eric’s art work is featured in the episode. (It’s amazing!). Deb Holman has been christened by t hose who know her as the “Mother Teresa of Duluth Minnesota.” I don’t know who came up with that moniker, but it captures her essence. She is a role model of how to give to your community.
I think many of us have shared Deb’s opinion that a “nicer” version of a state hospital would be better – there are also many people who have blossomed outside of the state hospital system. Like I said, it’s complex. Certainly I think all communities need to have a community mental health center that is publicly supported in some way. As tough as it is here in our region, my parents live in a community with no community mental health center: this is a forward progressive community. I cannot fathom what would happen to the people we see if we took that away from Duluth.
Carolyn Phelps PhD