While the last decade has shown improvement in terms of compassion, awareness and action for America's mentally ill, there have also been obvious and drastic failures.
Mental health patients without financial or family support are still being turfed out of hospitals, treated like criminals and being put on buses to other cities and states with nothing more than 24 hours worth of medication and a packed lunch.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 21, 2013 about the story of a mentally ill man named David Theisen.
Theisen was living in Las Vegas until he was picked up by authorities after he threatened suicide with a knife. He was sent to a psychiatric center for treatment.
But Theisen received no treatment. He was put on a bus with a small amount of medication and some food, bound for San Francisco. He was out of sight and out of mind, as far as the Nevada health system was concerned.
Once he got off the bus, he was homeless, with no source of income and no medication. He somehow survived with help from a shelter and miniscule welfare payments.
And now, with the help of San Francisco attorney Dennis Herrera, he and 24 others just like him are suing the state of Nevada for their actions. These twenty five mental health patients are not alone.
According to Herrera, in the last few years about 1500 mentally ill men and women were bussed all over the country by the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Center in Nevada -- which is a State run facility -- as well as by other mental health centers. Herrera estimates that one-third of these people were shipped to California.
"“It’s horrifying,” Herrera said.
“I think we can all agree that our most vulnerable and at-risk people don’t deserve this sort of treatment: no meds, no medical care, a destination where they have no contacts and know no one.”
But what makes it “even more tragic,” Herrera said, “is that on top of the inhumane treatment, the State of Nevada was trying to have another jurisdiction shoulder the financial responsibility for caring for these people.”