More people with mental health issues in jail than there are in hospitals.
by S.Abate on April 14, 2014 - 1:08pm
A mentally ill man from St John’s who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder was just released from jail after being charged with assault and threatening his father and step-mother. The man, Taylor Mitchell, 21, ran after them with a chainsaw and hit his father. The police were called and Mitchell was arrested and spent the night in jail and was denied bail. His lawyer, Joan Dawson, says that jail was the very last place he should’ve been because of his mental disorders. Mitchell’s mental issues peaked when he was 17 and has been in and out of Waterford Hospital seven times for a total of 200 days since then. This incident with his parents was his first encounter with the law and Dawson says this led him away from the actual help he needs. Dawson says there needs to be more appropriate facilities and housing for people like Mitchell, because the real issue is the complexity of his mental illness. Since Mitchell was denied bail, he wasn’t qualified for a specialized mental health court, and because of this he was living in jail instead of a community. Now that he’s been set free, he has no place to live, no job, and no money. Dawson attempted to find a facility in St John’s that would take him, but many places had no space or close to none. Dawson says that there seems to be more people with mental health issues in jail than there are in hospitals, which is a very serious problem. She thinks the only way these people will get proper help and housing is if we begin to demand it.