Recently, I read an article based on the mentally ill population and the residential program where I am employed as a counselor.  Tenants were complaining about their landlords allowing non-profit organizations to lease their apartments for their clientele.  Their tenants’  main argument is that the mentally ill population are destroying their building. Also, they argue that the mentally ill population is dangerous. These are only two of the many distorted concepts perceived by individuals that do not quite understand mental illness. Similar to race, having a mental illness, such a bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, comes with many stereotypes and labels and it is not a choice. 
 
     Contrary to the claims the tenants were making, the mentally ill population is rarely dangerous.  As a matter of fact, they are probably more scared of you than you would be of them.  Mental illness, like any other illness, such as cancer, is treatable. The mentally ill take medication to remain stable, where as those with cancer receive chemotherapy.  Depending on the level of their symptoms and functioning, housing is chosen for them.  Their housing programs hire counselors and caseworkers to ensure they take the steps needed to remain stable, which is their main goal. In other words, if the client was not capable of living in an apartment on their own, they would not be living there.  Even though this is the case, people still discriminate against them. This appears unfair as they would never discriminate against the cancer patient, who also has an illness.
 
     Secondly, it clearly states in the article that this particular apartment building was being destroyed before the clients moved in.  The tenants don’t take the time to mention other people and factors that may be contributing to the damage.  The area that they live in is not a great neighborhood and other people, who are not mentally ill, can cause damage to the apartment building as well. It appears they are just ignoring these factors and using this vulnerable population as a scapegoat.
 
     In addition, just like people cannot choose their race, people do not chose to be born with a mental illness.  Mental illness is passed on by genes, just like race.  Similar to how unfair it is for others to discriminate against minorities, it is unfair for them to discriminate against the mentally ill.  They are human beings that need housing just like you and I.   Despite this, most of their lives and social factors are based heavily on their illness.  I didn’t know that having a mental illness was a race. 
 
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[1] Tina Moore, “Former middle-class Bronx residences fall into disrepair, tenants blame non-profit rentals (2011)”at http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/07/18/2011-07-18_middleclass_apts_spiral_downward__tenants_blame_rental_of_units_to_nonprofits_se.html
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