Neighbor is mentally ill and getting worse
August 29, 2014 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I have a neighbor who is mentally ill and his condition is not improving. He leaves trash on our street and parks his car in front of my house with his trash inside. His house is unfit to live in and I don't know what we can do to help. I'm afraid to approach him 'cause it's progressed to him barking and talking to himself. We live in suburbia and I need resources that can help him.
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your local Adult Protective Services.
posted by essexjan at 8:14 AM on August 29, 2014 [14 favorites]

Age matters. If he is older adult protective services is who you should call. If not I'd call the non emergency police number and ask if they can do a wellness check otherwise. But don't expect much to happen. You will have better luck if you are witnessing things that fall into the harming self or others category. This could be standing in the street , aggressive behaviors getting lost, not eating. It's very broad.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:16 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

And if he is hoarding fire hazard is a good word to use. But this can backfire and end up leaving him homeless depending on your jurisdiction s level of support.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's worth googling your county name and "community mental health," especially if your county contains a large city. They may have an outreach team that can go out and talk to him.
posted by jaguar at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your county or city code enforcement agency might also be a resource, given that you say he's leaving trash in inappropriate places.
posted by jaguar at 8:47 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You call your local Coroner's office. They are the ones who can have him admitted to a hospital for evaluation.
posted by myselfasme at 8:51 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the US, the police are the last people I would call. APS or anything under "Mental Health" in your phone book's blue pages (if you have a phone book!).
posted by rhizome at 8:56 AM on August 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

You can also call United Way.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:58 AM on August 29, 2014

I would call 211. They should be able to talk through any resources in the area that might be available to your neighbor and give you a sense of what will happen if you contact the city to check on the well-being of your neighbor.
posted by shesbookish at 9:25 AM on August 29, 2014

You probably mean
posted by Tobu at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2014

Call your local jurisdiction's main number and ask who to contact. And you'll probably get the runaround, not because people are trying to stymie your efforts, but because it's an unusual question and it'll take a while of talking to people to get the right answer. But keep asking, keep asking for other referrals, and do the right thing for this poor man.

Other sources would include a local homeless shelter, not because they can provide any services, but because they're bound to know the local mental health services available. Ditto the local emergency room. They've probably got the right number on speed dial.
posted by Capri at 10:57 AM on August 29, 2014

NAMI The National Alliance on Mental Illness will be able to get you in contact with local people and organizations who can help you.

(800) 950-6264
posted by 1066 at 11:29 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

If his house is unfit to live in due to a hoarding situation, and it's clear that's the case just by looking in the windows, call your local fire department for a suggestion. They may come over for a code enforcement visit. If he is truly unable to care for himself and getting worse, being taken out of his home and into protective services is not the worst thing that could happen to him if you live in a suburban wealthy area. The actual worst thing that could happen to him - and to you, if your houses are close enough - is a devastating fire or gas leak that kills you all. I'm all for compassionate services, and I admire your concern for him, but this is potentially a life or death situation, and you are not equipped to know whether it is or not. The fire department is.
posted by juniperesque at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you so much for your input! Will get on it today.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2014

If he's not causing a danger to himself or others, he's got a right to talk to himself and keep trash in his car. His state of mind and the fitness of his home are not things you can determine. It sounds like the worst thing he's doing is littering.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:24 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Adult Protective Services is absolutely who you should call. We recently sat through a presentation on APS in my local area, and the supervisor giving the presentation explicitly said no age limit. It's there for, among other things, anyone who is no longer able to care for themselves, has a degenerated mental state, or is living in squalor.
posted by Verdandi at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2014

APS here wont respond generally if the person is under a certain age unless they ar e documented as disabled.
Also out police force has trained mental health teams to respond. Not that they do a good job but at least somebody who has some training will show.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2014

This is very difficult if he is too mentally ill to cope with life, but not ill enough to be hospitalized, especially against his will. He's probably not amenable to reasonable neighborly negotiation. I think the most compassionate response it to pick up the external garbage yourself, even though you shouldn't have to. People can park their trashy cars where they choose as long as it's a legal spot - unpleasant, I know.

If his behavior is especially loud, or is threatening in any way, call the police. If the garbage accelerates, call the police. If you can find out how to contact his family, you might be able to work with them on managing some of the problems. Where I live the police will try to help. Maybe talk to NAMI first and get some ideas about that.

Read this.
posted by theora55 at 2:10 PM on August 29, 2014

Where I live, the police have an unfortunate history of poor restraint when confronted with the mentally ill. I would definitely call APS first, and if it's not their lookout, ask them who they recommend. Your local police may be the best choice, when forewarned about the situation, but that's not always the case.
posted by mumkin at 7:38 PM on August 29, 2014

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