CounterPoint

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov

Category: Mental Health

The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders

The Decline of Free Play May Have Caused a Decline in Sense of Control and in Intrinsic Goals, and a Rise in Anxiety and Depression

Children’s freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction, has declined greatly in recent decades. Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.

The Decline of Free Play May Have Caused a Decline in Sense of Control and in Intrinsic Goals, and a Rise in Anxiety and Depression

One thing we know about anxiety and depression is that they correlate significantly with people’s sense of control or lack of control over their own lives. People who believe that they are in charge of their own fate are less likely to become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. You might think that the sense of personal control would have increased over the last several decades. Real progress has occurred in our ability to prevent and treat diseases; the old prejudices that limited people’s options because of race, gender, or sexual orientation have diminished; and the average person is wealthier than in decades past. Yet the data indicate that young people’s belief that they have control over their own destinies has declined sharply over the decades.

By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.

 

Learn more at PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

America’s Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail

Cook County Jail, America's Largest Mental Hospital

Cook County Jail, America’s Largest Mental Hospital

At Cook County Jail, an estimated one in three inmates has some form of mental illness. At least 400,000 inmates currently behind bars in the United States suffer from some type of mental illness—a population larger than the cities of Cleveland, New Orleans, or St. Louis—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI estimates that between 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives.

The overwhelming majority had been arrested for “crimes of survival” such as retail theft (to find food or supplies) or breaking and entering (to find a place to sleep).

Chicagoans with mental illness end up in jail through a chain of small decisions by different local officials. Police officers can choose to take a mentally ill person home, to the hospital, to a shelter—or to jail. Prosecutors can choose whether or not to not bring charges. Judges can choose to set higher or lower bail amounts, thereby determining whether poorer defendants can avoid pre-trial detention and keep their jobs and housing. But once a person reaches the jail, the local sheriff can’t simply decline to take them into custody.

Cook County Jail does house its share of serious violent offenders. Some of them are mentally ill. Many aren’t. But the overwhelming majority of Cook County Jail’s mentally ill population is booked for minor offenses, Dart told me. “When people do not receive the care they need, they become symptomatic,” Jones Tapia explained. “When people become symptomatic with acute mental illness, a lot of times those behaviors look criminal. And we have done an excellent job of criminalizing people with mental illness in our state.”

Read the rest at THE ATLANTIC

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