Dealing with a mentally ill neighbor: A serious concern

The idea of having a mentally ill neighbor next door sounds frightening and not to be taken lightly, to start with. There can be instances when your neighbor acts in an annoying or even dangerous way, which scares the shit out of you.  No one would entertain the idea of ill behaviour, due to whatever reasons from a close by resident. Respecting the mental condition of another is a different thing and preparing yourself for its inevitable consequences is another. Unless any mishap occurs, even the Police would not be interested in the matter, after all it’s just a matter of your security, nothing else. 

Hence, you should not wait for the last moment- the alarming one that might lead the mentally ill neighbor into committing a crime, most likely. Taking chances when it comes to safety is the last thing that a person would do. Though mental illness can range from normal to overwhelming, where the person is unable to control his state of mind. It is important to maintain healthy boundaries with such a person, not out of disrespect but merely to stay aware from any unfortunate circumstances. 

Let’s discuss few ways to deal with a mentally ill neighbor with patience:

Do not wait for the last moment: Do not start looking for hints to know if the person is acting a bit fishy or not. You never know when a sudden shift in moods or medication may turn a normal person into a life-threatening criminal. The right thing would be to have emergency contact information and ask the building owner for letting others know about the same. Keep the emergency contact information updated every year or so. Moreover, ask the board to articulate a policy to manage any issues with unstable residents, simply stating few steps. 

Documenting the problem: Consider a clear paper trail to convince a family member, housing court judge or Adult Protective Services( APS). collect any written security reports of the mentally ill resident or even better if you can keep the police reports of the same. For instance, if the resident tried to slap a stranger or hurt him in any way. 

Communicate with other neighbors: It might be a hard time going on for someone who has to deal with such a resident, but don’t forget, help is everywhere. Feel free to open up and communicate with other neighbors who could share their ideas on this matter. Ask them to not panic or even slow down, prepare a paper trail and get ready for any uncertain situation. 

Take assistance from family: More often than ever, a family member is the right person to approach if he is ready to intervene and bring a solution to the problem. The family member would be well acquainted with the ill resident and can make necessary changes in his medication, ongoing treatment or even consider replacing the tenant. Thereby, family is the only way who could move the tenant conveniently to a supportive housing or secure place. 

Reach out to the housing court: If the family solution does not work, then do nor fear or hesitate in reaching out to the housing court as help can be obtained from APS. Although, APS can only take action in case of eviction, therefore it is a necessary stop if you want to get the resident evicted based on nuisance or non-payment of maintenance charges. An eviction action can work well in case the family members of the resident are adamant enough and are not willing to shift to a different location.

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