EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 11, 2013

Letter: We need to care for the mentally ill

To the editor:

A problem that America seems to have swept under the rug is the issue of mental health. I have seen the problem firsthand in my own family and the suffering that results in unattended cases. Some have wound up in institutions, places that are more stark than jails, and patients in some cases have been treated poorly. That is no way to treat any patient. Past policies have declared that no one could be treated or institutionalized unless the mentally ill person agrees or poses a threat to society. The reasoning behind those ideas is wanting.

We care deeply for physically sick people but we allow the mentally ill to go back on the streets, get guns and commit massacres. Some families are burdened with a mentally ill member, placing undue stress on everyone in the family, and don’t fully understand the consequences when treatment is not sought.

Newspapers have reported that hospitals lack funds and beds; consequently, a sick person is back on the street, in jail or a burden to family. It seems we are still in the dark ages when it comes to mental health, perhaps the reason being the stigma that goes with that condition. The result is that the illness is then not properly addressed.

Avoiding or ignoring the problem can have dire consequences as we have tragically seen, and it is urgent that it becomes a front and center issue today. Tomorrow is too late.

Jo Ross

Hampton

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