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Jul 15, 2010

There is speculation about Mel Gibson's mental health after a tape recording of Gibson 's rant against his child's mother, Oksana Grigorieva. Gibson used racial slurs in a heated conversation that was recorded and recently made public at Radar Online (a link is provided below).  Last week, Clarence Thomas' nephew, Derek Thomas, was beaten and tazed in a Louisiana hospital where he was admitted after exhibiting suicidal tendencies. A few months ago when Michael Douglas' son was sentenced to a five-year prison term on drug charges, Douglas explained that Cameron has suffered from emotional problems since his early childhood. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock, was pronounced bipolar post mortem. Many famous, gifted, wealthy people have mental illness to varying degrees, and so do millions of poor and middle class people. In fact, mental illness is one of America's most common health issues. Unfortunately, it is often treated legally rather than medically.

Mental illness is such a common health condition that it affects approximately one in five Americans. Some people have phobias that present no problem for them as long as they do not have to confront the thing that strikes terror in their hearts. Other people have acute mental illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Many children are stricken with Autism, and thousands of elders suffer from age-onset dementia. Some people who appear to be merely alcoholics and/or drug users actually have underlying mental health issues that drove them to those addictions. A study of military personnel and veterans indicates that around 54% of combat soldiers suffer from some level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But PTSD is not limited to war. Plenty of people who live in neighborhoods where violence is common and adults who were victimized by sexual abuse or brutal beatings during childhood also have PTSD. 

Justice Thomas is reportedly incensed over his nephew's rough treatment when Derek was allegedly beaten and tazed by hospital security staff for not cooperating with an exam. Unfortunately, people who have emotional crisis like Derek Thomas did are often abused. Many people who exhibit signs of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, and other mind diseases find little understanding and sympathy - even from their close friends or family members. Should mentally challenged people be subjected to abuse or imprisoned for being sick?

Prisons are "correctional institutions" meant for (a) public safety, (b) punishment, and (c) rehabilitation. No one can be punished or rehabilitated into a state of mental soundness, and secure mental hospitals offer the same protection to the public from mentally ill offenders in crisis that prisons do. Therefore, it is time for America to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and eliminate the Dark Ages practice of locking sick people away in dungeons. Sadly, 60% of inmates in solitary confinement are mentally ill.  Like diabetes, another chronic health condition, mental illness is a common ailment that most victims can recover from sufficiently to resume wholesome lives with proper treatment.

Mel Gibson has not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder by any psychiatrist to my knowledge; however, Gibson is currently receiving extreme criticism for his actions that might prove to the result of a common health condition - bipolar disorder. Below is an article about Gibson, published by

Mel Gibson Mental Illness

Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, popularly known as Mel Gibson, is a famous American-Australian actor, director, producer and screenwriter better known around the world for his Academy Award-winning movies such as Gladiator, Patriot, Apocalypto, Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ.

Keeping aside his professional accomplishments, Mel Gibson is believed by many to be suffering from bipolar mental disorder, a mental illness that is characterized by abnormally elevated moods clinically referred to as mania.

Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness where affected individuals suffer from mood disorders. Usually, a highly aggressive behavior is believed to be the most striking symptom of bipolar disorder. On the contrary, people having this disease suffer from intermittent episodes of depression and mania that are separated by periods of normal mood. People suffering from bipolar disorder are prone to excessive consumption of alcohol and substance abuse. In fact, unable to control their emotions or moods, these individuals practice outlandish words and deeds. In case of Mel Gibson, there have been numerous instances where he was arrested form driving car after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and was reprimanded by the courts for his despicable behavior with the officials at the time of arrest.

Occurrence of bipolar disorder usually begins in childhood. In fact, Mel Gibson had himself acknowledged that he had behavioral anomalies from childhood including alcohol abuse from the age of 13. In spite of making repeated attempts to quit the habit, he has been really unsuccessful. Persons suffering from bipolar disorder experience a regular tendency to commit suicide. Gibson, in an interview in 2003, had said that his despair during his mid-thirties had led him to contemplate suicide.

According to studies, some of the risk factors that can cause this disorder include genetics and environment that severely influence the neurological and psychological state of mind in an individual. Treatment of bipolar disorder is possible. Psychologists primarily rely on medication and psychotherapy for treating such individuals. Medications include usage of ‘mood stabilizers’ such as lithium and sodium valproate. Apart from these, antidepressants and antipsychotic medications are also used. Psychotherapy involves counseling sessions with the psychologist.

The article above is available at the below link, along with other useful information about mental health care:  

***A link to listen to Gibson's heated conversation that led to speculation about bipolar disorder is available after the information below.



Fortunately, if Gibson is mentally ill, he can afford psychiatric treatment. When doctors' visits or hospitalization is needed for wealthy Americans who face short-term psychiatric crisis or need long-term care, they are not denied treatment for the lack of mental health care insurance coverage. Congress recently passed excellent legislation requiring that employers provide mental health care insurance coverage on a par with insurance coverage employees receive for physical ailments (some exclusions apply). However, hundreds of thousands, if not more, acute mentally ill people are unemployed and ineligible for employment due to the magnitude of their disabilities. It may take extensive treatment for them to be able to rejoin the workforce, if at all.  Where is the hospital insurance coverage for them? There is none. And neither was any provision for mental hospital insurance coverage made in the national health care plan that Congress recently passed. Unless some alternative arises, severe mentally ill Americans will continue to join the 1.25 million sick people who are currently imprisoned for inappropriate conduct that arose from untreated mental illness.

The GOOD NEWS is that Americans already has an alternative to imprisoning sick people! In January 2009, Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) introduced a federal bill called H.R.619 to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to resume Medicaid insurance for middle class and indigent people who need hospital care. Timely, humane treatment for mental illness would mean less crimes done by and to mentally unstable people. If Congress passes H.R.619, it will reduce prison costs, increase public safety, and end decades of discrimination against mentally challenged Americans. Hundreds of thousands of people who lack the financial resources to be treated in private psychiatric hospitals have been steadily and continuously imprisoned ever since Medicaid was removed for inpatient psychiatric care during the 1970's. They are frequently re-arrested as repeat offenders for crimes ranging from simple vagrancy to assults. Occasionally, avoidable murders happen.

The federal bill that NAMI, Treatment Advocacy Center, and numerous other mental health care organizations and activists support, H.R.619, would help end discrimination against mentally ill Americans. EVERYONE needs a health care plan, including the mentally ill. They need and deserve access to timely preventive and crisis intervention as much as a heart patient does. Furthermore, society needs for mentally challenged people to have insurance coverage. We all shop at the same malls and attend the same schools. The overwhelming majority of mentally challenged people are not dangerous, but no psychiatric patient should die during a lunacy arrest because of denial of health care, and no more children should be murdered by a psychotic neighbor or family member who was denied hospital admission.


YOU can support H.R.619 to resume Medicaid for inpatient psychiatric care for those who need it by calling or writing your representatives and voicing your support for the congressional bill.  Please visit ASSISTANCE TO THE INCARCERATED MENTALLY ILL (AIMI) at the link below to find out more about the need to decriminalize mental illness. AIMI members believe mental illness should be treated medically, not legally. Thank you for your interest in compassion and equal justice for Americans with mental disabilities.

May God bless Mel Gibson, if he is having mental health problems, as well as Derek Thomas, Cameron Douglas, and millions more people with competent, compassionate care.


Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill  


Apr 21, 2010

Michael Douglas and wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones,
leave courtroom after Cameron Douglas's sentencing

(18 paragraphs, 5 links, signature block w/AIMI icon)  Many young people wrestle with emotional problems.  Actor Michael Douglas explained to a judge that his son does.  Cameron Douglas's emotional problems led him to a heroin dependency that will now cost him five years in prison, the court ruled Tuesday.  People with psychological problems frequently turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to “get their heads on straight.”  The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) reports that nearly two million full-time college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence.  Most of them, like Cameron, began using drugs as teens.  But rather than treating them for drug dependency, hundreds of thousands of people are jailed on possession and trafficking charges.  Prison is a cruel, ineffective, and very expensive way to address such problems.  Below is an excerpt from a CASA report about the cost of America’s War on Drugs:

Substance abuse and addiction cost federal, state and local governments at least $467.7 billion in 2005 . . .  The CASA report found that of $373.9 billion in federal and state spending, 95.6 percent ($357.4 billion) went to shovel up the consequences and human wreckage of substance abuse and addiction; only 1.9 percent went to prevention and treatment, 0.4 percent to research, 1.4 percent to taxation and regulation, and 0.7 percent to interdiction.  (Access the full report at this link: )

The fact that less than 2% of the colossal War on Drugs price tag goes to prevention and treatment is disappointing but not surprising.  Immediately after the Civil War, the prison industrial complex arose to replace slavery and continue profits from America’s skin trade.  Many officials who make decisions about health care and criminal justice matters are prison investors.  Their stock portfolios improve by enacting tough-on-crime laws while seriously limiting funds for research and treatment opportunities for drug addiction and mental illness.  Consequently, 2.3 million people are presently incarcerated.  This gives the United States the distinction of imprisoning more people than any nation in world history.  Over two-thirds of incarcerations result from criminalizing mental illness and drug dependency and drove our prison costs to more than $50 billion annually.  Prison profiteers in public service have a major conflict of interest.  They ensure the success of their business interests by limiting resources for treatment that would reduce incarcerations, decrease crime, and restore scores of people with drug addictions and psychological problems to wholesome lives.

Many people know firsthand how hard it is to overcome bad habits like cigarette smoking or overeating.  Stress usually intensifies cravings for another cigarette or chocolate bar.  Likewise, people with drug addictions and/or mental health challenges are not improved by criminalizing their conditions and banishing them to prison cells.  Instead, they have a high recidivism rate and usually revolve in and out of “correctional” facilities because treatment is not prioritized.  Instead, addicts and mentally ill people are seemingly preserved untreated to become future prisoners of America.  This was demonstrated recently when inpatient treatment in mental hospitals and drug treatment centers was omitted from H.R.3200, the national health care reform bill that Congress passed. 

Middle-class and indigent families lack the finances to pay for treatment in private facilities, but public facilities continue to close across the country.  The hospital closures that began in the 1970’s when Medicaid was withdrawn for inpatient treatment continue to occur although treatment is more effective and financially prudent than imprisonment for addressing drug addiction and mental illness.  The nation’s best hope for remedy is to pass H.R.619, a congressional bill that was introduced in January 2009 by Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act and resume Medicaid for mental hospital patients who qualify for assistance. 

Unfortunately, H.R. 619 has powerful opposition precisely because passing the bill would create treatment options that would negatively impact prison profits.  Police would have mental health facilities to deliver individuals to when they have a crisis rather than to jail, and many of them would actually get better, avoid crime, and never go or return to prison.  Whereas passing H.R.619 would benefit We the People, it would be devastating for prison profiteers.  Some municipalities have agreements with private prison companies that guarantee them a certain number of inmates.  Officials have quotas to fill and do not plan to be impeded by treating mentally ill people and drug users who are intended to populate the prisons.

This writer has much interference using online services to notify the public about H.R.619, the bill that would help decriminalize mental illness.  See more information about the secret congressional bill at this link at, where supporters can VOTE for the bill: - No reports about H.R.619 have been published by mainstream media, according to  That omission is very suspect since one in five Americans is estimated to have mental illness, and 1.25 million mentally ill people are already imprisoned.  That number is augmented by hundreds of thousands of other inmates who are not diagnosed with mental illness but are incarcerated like Cameron Douglas for crimes related to drug addiction.  Many such persons also have an underlying emotional problem that led them to drugs, just as Michael Douglas said his son has.

Considering who Cameron Douglas is, financial considerations likely did not prevent the young man from participating in a drug treatment program.  However, people with drug and alcohol dependencies and psychological problems frequently reject treatment, and it leads to their incarceration.  That is why drug courts and mental health courts are important.  The choice of whether to accept treatment is removed from defendants facing imprisonment, and judges can order them into treatment instead of prison if their criminal charges and backgrounds meet certain criteria.  Support for jail diversion programs is growing.  In fact, the Department of Justice recently invested significant sums in jail diversion programs and the Second Chance Act to monitor and treat people who wrestle with mental illness and/or drug addictions.  Some states, however, do not allow judges any discretion to use jail diversion programs rather than prison.  Instead, mandatory sentencing laws enacted by elected officials (who may be prison profiteers) preclude the judges’ ability to make allowances for extenuating circumstances like the emotional problems Michael Douglas described regarding his son, Cameron.

Members of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI) join TAC and 210,000 NAMI members in supporting H.R.619 to resume Medicaid insurance for mental hospitals.  We also advocate for all states to eliminate mandatory sentencing and three-strikes laws like New York did recently, repeal the death penalty like New Mexico, and continue to reduce the number of people sentenced to prison, especially regarding defendants with non-violent drug charges and the mentally ill. 

Below is an excerpt of a report on Cameron Douglas’ sentencing published April 20, 2010, by Reuters.

Michael Douglas's son sentenced to 5 years

(Reuters) - The son of Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for possessing heroin and dealing large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine out of a New York hotel room.

Cameron Douglas, 31, pleaded guilty to the charges in January, following his arrest last year at the trendy Gansevoort Hotel in Manhattan.

In court, Douglas apologized to his family for "this nightmare of my own making" and admitted to a long heroin addiction.

His father, Michael Douglas, wrote a letter to the judge asking for leniency. He said Cameron had battled with drugs since age 13.

"I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father," said Douglas, whose own father is actor Kirk Douglas. "I'm not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with."


The War on Drugs has had many casualties, like all wars.  Scores of police officers and drug users/dealers have been killed.  As with any war, there are innocent victims.  Thousands of family members, including children, mourn their dead, and thousands more must face life without their imprisoned parents, spouses, siblings, and offspring.  Many parents experience pain because their children were ensnared by drugs, and Michael Douglas is among them.  Added to the human suffering is the financial burden of conducting the War on Drugs. Like military conflicts, the expense drains resources needed to address other concerns.  It costs around $500 billion per year to ascertain and imprison those who violate drug laws.  There is no exit strategy for this war and no end in sight.  It seems prudent, therefore, to launch a sustained assault on the cause the problem instead of the people who have the problem.  CASA reports that 65 percent of all U.S. inmates meet the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction, but only 11 percent receive any treatment.  Obviously, it is time to fight drug addiction and mental illness with treatment, not with bullets and prison terms.

Statistics, links to government and academic studies, and other data regarding the War on Drugs are available in the website at the link below: (hard facts, real stories, informed experts) 

May God strengthen Cameron and his family as they endure the next four years of his sentence.  He was credited with one year for time served.

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI)
P.O. Box 153, Redan, GA 30074

THING THEY EXPERIENCE.  Please join our effort to decriminalize
mental illness.  No one deserves to be punished for having a disability.

Thanks in advance for voting at for H.R.619.




Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Mary Neal
, 5, 2 children
Atlanta, GA, USA
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