Involuntary Hospitalization And Bias Against Marginalized Groups
Keywords:Mental Health, mental illness, psychiatry, involuntary hospitalization
Similar to groups traditionally thought of as marginalized, such as ethnic groups, non-binary people, and women, purportedly mentally ill people are subjected to structural oppression. Despite being more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, we tend to think of mental patients as violent deviants, similar to the way black boys are consistently misidentified as being older and overall in possession of superhuman or subhuman traits. Already marginalized groups are disproportionately marginalized further by mental health care stigma and predatory insurance-seeking by health care providers. The administrative discretion psychiatric and law enforcement professionals are given to deal with mental patients or people suspected of having mental problems is effectively a license to incarcerate anyone at any time with no due process and no uniformly applied repercussions in place to deter abuses of power, and people incarcerated by law enforcement officials often cannot afford an attorney. The result is a sometimes-predatory system in which predatory professionals mask their coercive collection of people's insurance money by saying they are helping. Both the language we use—"cuckoo," "not all there," etc.--to talk about mental illness and the current structure of mental health care contribute to this further marginalization of the already marginal.