Pardon me for interfering with your discussion with Harv, but I have personal experience with the mental health system of the State of Connecticut. This system is quite good, unlike the system in Massachusetts where I grew up. It was not always that way. Only some 30 years ago patients were treated with electric shock. But today effective drugs have replaced shock.
Now I agree with much of what you say. But I think you are missing an essential aspect of how people come to labeled as mentally ill. Most families contain individuals with varying degrees of mental illness that never gets labelled. The family keeps their status quiet and helps them to get along as best they can or in many cases the illness is considered normal, as it probably is. I know families where almost all members can be labelled as ADHD or AS. [BTW_I do not think you are AS. But if you are then so am I, and probably Hrav as well].
The main reason these people get labelled and institutionalized is that they break the law. For an example, one family I am close to where mental illness seems to be hereditary was able to keep every thing under control in spite of the consumption of mind altering drugs by several of its members. But finally one of them began hearing voices. The voices told him to burn down someone's home and he did; was arrested and diagnosed; and sent to the State Mental Hospital in Middletown. That is a blessing compared to being sent to prison where his life would be endangered. After two years he was released to a half-way house. Since then he has been working, in counseling and mostly taking his medicine. When he stops the medicine he gradually falls of the edge and goes MIA. The drugs make him drowsey so he would like to be rid of them but cannot function lawfully without them.
I think that case is typical. People who come into the State system have usually broken the law. Many people being treated for mental illness are self-committed. But they usually stay outside the state system. Instead they consult their own doctor who treats them as outpatients.
But then there are abuses. I know of one case where a young lady self-committed to a hospital with services for the mentally ill. She stayed there for a week during which time her family found a more appropriate hospital. The transfer was arranged, but when the family arrived for the transfer, they found that her doctor had intervened and transferred her to a lock-up hospital. It was only the intervention of a lawyer famed for winning medical cases that got her released. The doctor had residence at both hospitals and did not want to lose the insurance payments. So medical systems are only as good as the ethics of its doctors and administrators permit.
So my advice is that if you know of someone with or with suspicion of mental illness from the mildst forms to the severest, seek private confidential diagnosis for them, and if necessary care; and keep them from breaking the law. But if you or they cannot keep themselves under control, pray that you live in a state as enlightened as Connecuticut.