Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What would be your solution to the functional mentally ill?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) September 18th, 2014

There are some people around town that are homeless, the lucky ones have family to stay with, that are certainly 2 tacos short of a Mexican salad, but they are not so far out on cloud nine that they don’t know not to stand on the train tracks, walk into traffic, etc. There is no way they can hold a job (maybe with some powerful meds), they talk to themselves, or people invisible to the rest of the world, some physically abuse themselves, they wear the same clothes until it literally falls off of them, even if you give them newer clothes they seem to lose them. They know enough to tell day from night, what town they are in, where to go to get free food from the outreach, but having the mental chops to pay rent on time, and other bills, or doing laundry would seem to be a challenge. What would you do with these people if it were in your power to do so? Some get SSI etc. but how they manage their money (they do know enough to realize that card they carry has money after the 1st of the month.) one can only guess, after a few days they are broke.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

17 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

There are many levels to mental illness. Group homes are ideal. I suggest you be less derisive & more educated frankly.

talljasperman's avatar

Bill the family for any shortfalls. I am one of the highly functional mentally ill the government gives me some money to look after myself. My family covers some of the rest. I do not drink or panhandle from non family members. Other than making a few mistakes I am fine.

jerv's avatar

Define “functional”. Technically, I am mentally ill. However, I can hold down a job, do my own laundry, feed myself, pay my bills, etcetera. To me, what you’re describing is non-functional.

talljasperman's avatar

@jerv Yes I would like to know how mental illness is ranked. I have read that you can use GAF scores from one to 100. I would score between 50 and 80. I do my housework on my good day’s. I pay my bills on time and I get meals on wheels for food. I get some spending cash and I pay for my own cable. I am being asked to be a spokesman for mental illnesses in high schools.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv Define “functional”.
For lack of a better word, I am using ”functional” to mean they are not in Neverland, they know to use the toilet, they are not drooling on themselves not knowing if it is day or night or if they are human or a monkey and try to climb light p[oles naked and throw crap at everyone. Basically they know enough not to walk off a roof but seemingly not enough to know to change clothes, and have conversations with people in their own world or mind.

Buttonstc's avatar

If they are mentally ill but functional and not interfering with the quality of other people’s lives, I’m not sure that any intervention is really

I think top priority should go to deal with those who are so mentally ill that they become involved with the criminal justice system or are potentially dangerous.

Once they get that managed then perhaps they can branch out to offer better care to those who are more functional.

Years ago when they closed down most of the State mental hospitals because they were just warehousing them (sometimes in appalling situations of neglect) the promise was made to concerned family members that these huge hospitals wpuid be replaced by smaller and more local group homes with more individualized care.

Well after meeting enough NIMBY resistance and lack of funding, that promise never materialized.

So now we have them homeless on the streets or the jails have become defacto warehouses for the mentally ill.

Our entire system for (not) dealing with these severely incapicitated folks needs to be reformed from top to bottom.

They also need to revise the criteria for when a severely ill and potentially dangerous person (according to concerned family members) can be involuntarily held. It is horrendously inadequate as of is now.

They just did a report on this highlighting one tragic case recently on 60 Minutes. The father, (who is a State Senator btw) knew that his son was off his meds and imminently dangerous tried to get the ER to hold his son long enough for him to find a facility with a bed available.

Long story short, they wouldn’t hold him, shortly after, he attacked his father with a knife and then killed himself.

It was heartbreaking to hear the father recounting this tragedy (which could have been prevented).

The system is totally broken and needs to be thoroughly overhauled so that a parent with a future Adam Lanza or Jared Laughner on their hands is not left totally helpless.


The details of the case I cited can be found on the CBS website. The title of the story by Scott Pelley was: “Nowhere To Go”

It was Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds. But there are interviews with health care workers and others covering the general state of lack of resources.

It’s very thought provoking (and very sad)

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think some confusion is arising from terminology. You are referring to the “functionally mentally disabled”, meaning that they are disabled with respect to being functional.

However, the way that you phrased the question (“functional mentally ill”) makes it sound like they are mentally ill, yet still functional. So, it will be hard for you to get the answers you seek, I think.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Buttonstc If they are mentally ill but functional and not interfering with the quality of other people’s lives, I’m not sure that any intervention is really necessary.
I guess that comes down to what level of interference can be called interference. If you are trying to have a party in the park for your niece, and some guy is wondering around having an argument with violent swearing with someone inside his head, is that interference? If a person not all there wonders into a dinner and tried to engage patrons with some wild story or conspiracy theory, is that interference? For the most part I don’t think these people are dangerous to other and there mentally enough to not be a danger to themselves, but don’t seem to be there enough to take care of themselves as to hold down a home. As you say, you can’t make them go to a group home, and I suspect by government standard they are not mentally gone enough for the government to pay to house them in one.

@dappled_leaves I think some confusion is arising from terminology
Sorry for that, but I do not know what to call them; they are not crazy where they do not know where they are or if they are human or a turnip, but their mental function is not working on the level of you or I, maybe in some respects not even on the level of a 6 year old. I can’t say they are crazy because they can make it through the day doing basic things to survive.

Buttonstc's avatar

Read or listen to that 60 Minutes piece and you’ll realize that some mebtally ill guy in the park interfering with a kids birthday party is pretty small potatoes compared to the damage done by those who are so paranoid that they literally cannot determine reality from unreality.

Once the system is adequate for managing them, then there’s plenty of time to deal with the guy in the park.

(and if enough people call the cops with complaints about the guy in the park, he will likely end up in jail on a public nuisance charge anyway.)

They need to overhaul the entire mental health care system. Right now it’s downright insanity. It makes no sense at all.

But adequate care requires money…

rojo's avatar

@Buttonstc and we require all of our monetary resources to bomb people and arm the next generation of ungrateful terrorists.

Sometime I don’t think all the crazy people are in jail or on the streets.

Buttonstc's avatar


So true. So true.

Buttonstc's avatar

(there is some notice about a website certificate or something, but I’ve gone to this site without adverse incident)

This was written a few days after the tragedy at Sandy Hook by a mother facing a simlar dilemma.

It went viral and illustrates how many parents there are in our country trying to deal with mental illness in their children before it’s too late.

What I found most telling was the social worker’s comment when she pled for help and asked what she could do. There is a lot of truth there and an accurate assessment of how broken our system truly is.

JLeslie's avatar

I too am having trouble with terminology. Functional to me means they can hold down a job, like a “functional” alcoholic. My grandfather was paranoid schizophrenic but somehow he got on the subway every day in NYC and worked his whole life. When I think about all he went through it breaks my heart. He was very poor and I doubt he received any sort of government help. One of his sisters was hospitalized almost her entire adult life. I assume the state paid for it. I also assume she didn’t “function” well.

I think we as a society need to take care of our mentally ill. It can be difficult, because sometimes they refuse help. Also, people need to be willing to throw money at programs and facilities. Moreover, we need to keep our streets safer somehow, so those people who live on the street are not in such jeopardy.

I am all in favor of providing shelter for people who are mentally ill, but have trouble holding a job, and can for the most part take care of themselves otherwise. Take away the worry of shelter and provide some treatment. Ideally have jobs they can do and get paid for. When I say shelter I mean their own small apartment or a room in a home, but their own room, not a bed among 20 other people.

Darth_Algar's avatar

If your idea of “functional” is “doesn’t walk into trains or crap their pants” then I think, frankly, that you need to educate yourself a little better before any meaningful conversation on this subject can take place.

KNOWITALL's avatar

As far as what can be done, diagnosis, therapy & non-threatening care is what’s needed. Peer counseling works.

LornaLove's avatar

This is a very real issue in most societies. I felt the way you worded the question was quite derogatory towards severely mentally ill people. For example: one of the most severely challenging mental illness is schizophrenia disorganized.A paranoid schizophrenic although falling under serious mental illness, is much more organized and can function quite well in society.

In the old days, mentally ill people were chained to walls and treated with blood sucking leeches in order to clean out their maladies. That seems so cruel right? Today is not much better, now they are just left to wander the streets and try and sort themselves out.

Schizophrenia is an illness of perception which means a distortion in actually reality, thinking and emotion. Can you imagine how confusing life would be if you had that illness? I know that in the UK there are no such people wandering around. (Well not in Scotland anyhow). Here, there is help offered. Imagine posting this comment:

“What should we do with severely disabled people who don’t function very well ? You know, the ones that fall off the train tracks because they don’t have any legs? Or the ones that have had strokes and can’t pay the rent but can find the shelter that serves food for them”.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Darth_Algar If your idea of “functional” is “doesn’t walk into trains or crap their pants” then I think, frankly, that you need to educate yourself a little better before any meaningful conversation on this subject can take place.
So we don’t get off on some tangent about terminology and splitting hairs on denotation, let me be blunt and ask the way I know how then, can we do that? What would you do, if you had the power, with those who are off, crazy, out there, to the point they can’t hold a job or have a really decent conversation, that are delusional and live in a world partially in their own mind, but not so far out there or crazy that they don’t have sense to avoid obvious harm? That makes it much clearer? :-P

I said ”functional” was used for lack of a batter word to describe it, but you may have missed that part.

@LornaLove* I felt the way you worded the question was quite derogatory towards severely mentally ill people.*
Being able to ask it without hat dancing around wording would have made it easier for people to confront the issue and not the wording, but we have gotten so thin-skinned and PC these days, it gets in the way by gutting emphasis from the issue.

“What should we do with severely disabled people who don’t function very well ?
The trouble with that, is one would have to go through nearly every example of disability and how it is a severity to them. I have a friend who is in a chair, he can stand, maybe walk 3 ft. with a walker, he can’t do physically what many of us can, but he is sharp, lucid, and he gets on the bus and goes everywhere in his chair; he shops, banks, go out to eat, etc. he is severely disabled but hardly non-functional. To be that generic, someone would introduce some instance or issue that logically should be excluded just because it wasn’t in describing the disability.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther