For his main Last Week Tonight segment Sunday night, John Oliver dove deep into the issue that has been top of mind for every major Republican presidential candidate in the wake of the latest mass shooting in Oregon: mental health.
Oliver left the ball in the court of Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson, who keep bringing up mental illness in the context of mass shootings-despite the fact that most mentally ill people are nonviolent, and the majority of gun violence is commited by non-mentally ill people. “In fact, mentally ill people are far likelier to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators”, he explained of “the thing actors pretend to have in order to win Oscars”. But that won’t be easy because of the “clusterfuck” of American agencies devoted to mental health. From decrepit psychological asylums-dubbed “snake pits”-to necessary electroshock remedy, it’s all the time been a multitude”.
Oliver goes on to detail the epic failures in this country regarding mental health, like prisons being where most mentally ill people end up, or a process known as “Greyhound therapy”, where facilities discharge mentally ill people early and put them on a Greyhound bus with a one-way ticket to … somewhere. In 2009, The Associated Press reported that “nearly 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with serious mental illness lived in USA nursing homes” the previous year.
Overall, Oliver showed that the US mental health system can be “ineffective, expensive and dangerous” and in need of a massive overhaul. “By a few estimates, an unbelievable half of all incidents involving the police use of lethal drive contain a mentally unwell individual”. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of police agencies have utilized them.
“We as a society, we have to figure out how to fund [mental health programs]-not just because it makes fiscal sense, but because it would save lives”.
Still, Oliver said that it is still time to start talking about mental illness and to change how we treat it. He then challenged those politicians who say that mental illness is a major issue to actually do something about it.
But fine, let’s talk about mental illness, then!