And they’re not in jail, shelters, or on the streets because of what President Reagan so infamously said “that’s where they choose to be”.
They’re there because we as society have failed them and their families. The evidence for this are the facts stated above along with the pervasive stigma and discrimination that persons with mental illness experience (this has lessened but still exists), our dismal healthcare system that is particularly harsh to the mentally ill, inadequate social programs needed for effective community-based treatment (these treatment models that are proven to work do exist in some places, they just don’t exist in nearly enough places because they’re not funded).
These facts are widely known. Ask any member of the Mental Health Caucus of our state legislature or the staff at NAMI-Mass. These facts are why the Massachusetts Health Care Constitutional Amendment language explicitly spells out and seeks to establish a Constitutional guarantee for not only preventive, acute and chronic medical care services, but also for “Mental Health Care Services”.
Check it out for yourself at http://www.HealthCareForMass.org