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Ashley Boone, Jessica McElfresh, and Sang-A Yun
Student Pharmacists, Purdue University

Crazy is a two-fold story written by Pete Earley, a former journalist for the The Washington Post and a four-time New York Times bestselling author. The first part of the story is personal for Earley. It is about his son’s diagnosis with schizophrenia and their battle with the legal and mental health systems. The second story within Crazy delves more deeply into the mental health system. Earley investigates the Miami-Dade County Jail system where he finds that our prison systems are being used as mental health facilities. He has exclusive interviews with patients, inmates, judges, prosecutes, families and more that paint a hidden world within the jail system. Crazy is a message for all mental health advocates to fight for change within the jail systems in regards to mental health treatment and care.

Some of the issues presented in this book involve the relationship between mental health and the law, the stigma of mental health, and the public’s lack of knowledge of mental health. In this book, Earley was able to share his personal experience with mental illness while also sharing what he learned about how mental illness is handled. Earley learned that many mentally ill individuals, at some point, encounter law enforcement, incarceration, and homelessness. Many mentally ill individuals are also not receiving the care and support that they need. There were many issues brought up in this book, and there is a need for people to be more proactive, rather than reactive.

Pharmacists have the opportunity to help mentally ill patients and to educate others. For instance, Earley mentions that patients do not always receive the medications they have been receiving previously when they are incarcerated, as patients often are given medications with the lowest cost. Not receiving the proper treatment leads to the mentally ill spending longer stints in jail, as they often fall into a deeper psychosis that prevent them from going to trial. Pharmacists can advocate for mentally ill patients in jail by showing that the government ends up spending more money in the long run as patients are held longer in jail. Pharmacists can also advocate for patients by educating patients on the importance of taking medication, informing friends and family members about adherence, and providing patients with a support system.

Crazy is an eye-opening perspective of what has happened to our country’s mental health population. History has shown how society consistently tries to hide mental illness from insane asylums to state hospitals and currently, in prisons. Improving education on mental health and patient outcomes can decrease the stigma around mental health and provide better care for patients. Reading Crazy will change your perspective of how you see the homeless or people who may be acting “crazy.” Rather than seeing a person who needs to be locked up or removed from society, you will see a person with a medical condition, just like diabetes or hypertension, who needs help.

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