There's a good post by George Clifford, a colleague over at Episcopal Cafe, with a good reflection on a Christian understanding of mental illness, and how we might respond to it. I commend it to your attention.
As we watch the rising political conversation on access to healthcare in the United States, let's pay attention to this issue. For some time there has been controversy and struggle over "parity:" insurance coverage for mental health treatment on par with coverage for physical health treatment. With higher co-pays and lower lifetime spending limits, few insurance programs offer mental health and addiction coverage that is adequate, much less on par with coverage for physical illnesses and injuries. Because mental illnesses are often chronic rather than acute, coverage limitations throw victims and their families into the public health system - if there are any resources for them even there - or, as George notes, into the penal system.
General Convention has spoken to this. In 1991, Resolution D088 called on "members of the Episcopal Church... to become knowledgeable about mental illness in order to reduce stigma and stereotypes which are prevalent within the Church body and the Community-at-large;" and "to reach out, welcome, include and support persons with a mental illness, particularly those who have a prolonged, serious mental illness, and the families of those persons, and recognize the abilities and celebrate the gifts of those who have a mental illness...." It also called for programs to care for the mentally ill, both in the community and in institutions, and to prepare clergy to provide appropriate care. Finally, it called for all of us to "become advocates for public policy and adequate funding to provide comprehensive community-based services, hospital care and research into the causes and treatment of mental illness...."
As we prepare to vote next year, and to include health care provisions in our considerations, remember the needs of those suffering mental, behavioral, and addictive disorders, and those who care for them. We need to become part of "those who care for them." As George notes, it's a good Christian thing to do.