‘My brother thought he was James Bond,” a woman told Rep. Tim Murphy on Monday. Her brother was schizophrenic and institutionalized for 20 years, but when Hudson River State Hospital closed in the early 2000s, the authorities said that her brother would simply “have to learn how to be an adult.”

Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania who is co-sponsoring the Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act, says this story is all too common. At an event sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, Murphy said that, “when we closed the asylums, we forgot about the people who can’t care for themselves.”

The effects have been tragic. He estimates that between suicide, victims of mass murder, violent incidents with police and failure to treat conditions like diabetes, mental illness is killing 85,000 Americans each year.

The problems in caring for the seriously mentally ill stem not just from the bureaucratic morass that is our health-care system, nor are they simply a matter of financial resources. They’re the result of cultural attitudes toward mental illness that inform public policy. “We treat mental illness as a choice and a crime,” Murphy says. In the name of civil liberties, says Murphy, we are “preserving their right to self-decay.”

About a quarter of the homeless population are mentally ill, says Murphy, who was a psychologist before entering Congress and continues to practice at Walter Reed Hospital as part of a unit dealing with PTSD. In train stations and on the streets, Murphy wants to know, “how can we continue to step over these people, to treat them like they’re dust?”

It may be hard to fathom, but many of those people lying on the floor in Grand Central Station actually have family who would like to care for them, but their parents and siblings have been rendered helpless by our laws at the local, state and federal levels. DJ Jaffe, the director of the think tank Mental Illness Policy Org, says that many families “can’t keep mentally kids at home because they’re powerless to help them.”

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents doctors from giving families the most basic information about their mentally ill relatives’ conditions or even their whereabouts. They can’t get a diagnosis or even information about medication or appointments.

Murphy notes the absurdity: Many of the seriously mentally ill don’t even know they’re sick. One man he treated told his doctors not to tell his father about his medical records because he was convinced his father was working with the FBI to track him using sensors in his brain.

Doctors regularly make judgments to tell relatives about a patient’s condition when the patient is physically incapacitated. Why can’t they do the same for mental-health patients?

Even when laws to help the mentally ill are enacted, politicians have a great deal of discretion over how they’re implemented. Jaffe believes that Kendra’s Law, which permits the involuntary commitment of New Yorkers suffering from serious mental-health issues, is underused. No surprise there, given the de Blasio administration’s policy of letting the homeless be homeless.

Meanwhile, the mayor has launched any number of initiatives to combat related problems — training 250,000 people to diagnose asymptomatic mental-health problems, programs for pregnant women, programs for high-school students, etc. — but Jaffe worries that these are “sideshows.”

The report introducing de Blasio’s $850 million mental health-initiative Thrive NYC notes that “to support the mental well-being of all New Yorkers . . . we need to focus on our society itself — which means addressing big issues like racism, income inequality, and disparities in community resources.”

Claudia Powell, who works for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Harlem, says that she regularly gets calls on her cellphone from people who get no answer from the city’s hotline, which is supposed to be staffed 24-7. One mother wanted to know what to do about her son, who was becoming agitated and going for the kitchen knives.

Just hold on. We have to address racism and inequality first.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.