How much is an individual’s life worth, speaking in terms of society’s responsibility to the individual?
In the United States, even here in South Carolina and in Pickens County, the answer is, simply put, rhetoric.
Words. That’s the value of an individual in today’s social and political climate. There aren’t enough cable, satellite, radio, or social media channels available to accommodate the pundits screaming their answers to the social ills that plague our 21st century society. But that’s just entertainment aimed to political agendas.
Want to make a social change in America? Think Return on Investment. Take one look at the funding the government distributes on a national, state and local level for mental health care and research and you will discover that generating more revenue takes precedence over spending tax dollars that won’t show an immediate or future growth.
That is the state of funding for mental health care, facilities, research, and education in America. Those who are in need of mental health care in this country who are merely warehoused because of their socio-economic standing or lack thereof.
Mental illness doesn’t hold the appeal other local and national issues do, the kinds of issues hat grab a voter’s attention and equates to a political football no one wants the responsibility of carrying.
We have become a nation of reactionaries bent on fixing an issue only after it has become the problem child that embarrasses us in front of our friends and neighbors. Then the fix is usually nothing more than a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding.
We as a society have decided to talk the issue into submission and hide it away like an illegitimate child no one wants to claim. Mental illness is present in our lives on a daily basis — whether through a family member or associate, maybe a neighbor — and as such should be addressed and with due diligence.
In one way or another, the absence of funding, the lack of urgency, and the need to hide mental illness in this country is hurting everyone, directly or indirectly. Unlike when “out of sight, out of mind” was a truism, this time the monster in the closet is much bigger than our imaginations can perceive.