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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 19, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Treating people with mental illness

Action necessary, possible

Dr. Abe Bergman’s op-ed piece “Finding the will to treat people with mental illness” [Opinion, March 12] could not be more timely.

As the former director of the graduate psychology program at Seattle University and as a clinical faculty member at the University of Washington, we have educated and trained people to hear the call of the other who is often in desperate need of mental-health assistance.

Increasingly over the years, however, funding for mental-health clinics has decreased with fewer and fewer clinics and fewer and fewer professionals at the remaining clinics to do this necessary work as well as to supervise graduate students who want to do this needed work. This has left our mental-health safety net in tatters to the detriment of all of us.

I agree with Dr. Bergman’s statement that a “concerted political action — a public referendum” is absolutely necessary and also possible. We must find the will to respond to this human need if we are to consider ourselves a compassionate and humane society.

Lane Gerber, Seattle

Shedding light on the problem

It’s past time to bring treating mental health out of the closet. Not far removed from most of us are family members, neighbors and fellow Americans whose health needs are shunned; hidden because of our ignorance and shame. As with any disability, its presence must first be recognized.

Dr. Abe Bergman draws attention to the essential absence of “the lack of will” in the campaign to provide essential treatment facilities.

To create “will” requires frank discussions about the presence of unhealthy people among us. It requires us to honestly accept the reality that some of us suffer, due to no fault of anyone, but that adequate care can and should be available.

The human fabric of our being gets rewoven with each and every one whose potential contribution is made healthier. We owe ourselves and those who suffer with mental-health conditions an open clearing of our visions of healthy communities.

It’s time for a release from the silence of fear and shame; a clearing and expanding of our personal visions. Recreating our mental-health attitudes begins the process and then we can remedy the situation of public will for providing needed treatment and facilities.

I recommend each of us continues this conversation in order to open that closet door.

Nancy Curtiss, Olympia

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