Eileen Quinn Knight  
Profiles in Catholicism

A Social Justice Advocacy Request for the Release of the State of Illinois Allocated Funds for the Care of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ with Mental Illness

Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.

October 26, 2016

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The Psalmist of the Old Testament calls us to hear the “Cry of the Poor”! Social justice demands that we hear that cry and respond.  Social Justice is a term that has many definitions depending on the time, place and concern for others.  The most important issue is the command of Christ to love one another. It is a term that brings us close to opting for others who are unable or unprepared to help themselves. One of the most neglected areas is that of mental illness including such disorders as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and other severe anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses that affect the brain. These are all issues that need and warrant our attention for the kingdom of God. Some of the advantages relevant for social justice include money, property, jobs, education, medical care, child care, care for the elderly, honors and prizes, personal security, housing, transportation, and opportunities for leisure. Some of the disadvantages include military service, dangerous work, and other hardships.  (Miller, 2003) We are continually called by God to serve others who walk our journey with us.

By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children and yet the State of Illinois has withdrawn money for this important concern. (NAMI-National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, “About mental illness” ) Miller's theory focuses on the concepts of need, desert, and equality. Need is a claim that one is lacking is basic necessities and is being harmed or is in danger of being harmed and/or that one's capacity to function is being impeded (Miller, 2003). Desert is a claim that one has earned reward based on performance, that superior performance should attract superior recognition (Miller, 2003). Equality refers to the social ideal that society regards and treats its citizens as equals, and that benefits such as certain rights should be distributed equally (Miller, 2003). We need  State funds to accomplish our goals and serve our brothers and sisters in the needs of mental health. This is not the funds today in order to serve and to care for others.

We should all contact our state representatives demanding that they work on creating a state budget.  The men, women and children impacted by the long running state budget deadlock face significant barriers to employment such as low levels of literacy, homelessness, criminal backgrounds, and physical and mental limitations and erodes a food safety net and increases hunger among the poor.