It's reality. Some people are too crackers to function in society, and we have to have a place to put them
Sadly, most, nearly all, of the people who are placed in mental hospitals are harmless to others. A typical reason someone might be there is for depression. There are many who are women, like my friend, who suffer from post-partum depression. After her family committed her I decided to learn a little more about who is hospitalized, and why.
Others are there because have overwhelming anxiety that makes their life difficult. Perhaps this is, like they have agoraphobia, and so are afraid to go out even to go food shopping. So they don't have food. Their family may not have time to shop for them.
Even the psychotics are rarely dangerous. This is not only from visiting my friend that I saw them, but I decided to learn about it, and I read the statistics. They may prattle about how they are jesus. Or they may think radio waves form broadcast stations are going to melt everyone's bones or something -- so they cover themselves with aluminum foil, and won't leave their aluminum foil cocoon. They don't eat, their family doesn't have time or money or adequate insurance to care for them at home, they become institutionalized.
Maybe about 98% are harmless to others. Most are harmless to themselves. But if they are harmful to themselves it is usually as described above, they don't feed themselves, they don't bathe maybe. More than 50% are women. Very few really need institutionalization. The main reason they are there is it is too expensive for home care. Perhaps if their families had money, their families could afford a part-time aid to look after them, make sure they ate, bathed, etc. But perhaps their medical insurance won't cover this, and will only cover institutionalization. Or perhaps, like in the case of my friend, when her post-partum depression made it difficult for her to take care of the baby, her husband decided that taking time to care for the child, and hiring someone to help him and his wife care for the child, would have interefered too much with his relationship with his new girldfriend, and his depressed wife would have interefered with this relationship too much also -- he decided it would be easier to just get his wife entirely out of the way. So there they are.
The press overlooks this vast majority, because it is not sensational. The press tells us about the killers -- and we erroneously think most of the mentally ill are killers. In actuatlity, the mentally ill commit crimes at about the same rate, or less frequently,
than the general population.