Brian M. Rosenthal’s story on mental health is welcome. It is also well timed as May is Mental Health Month [“Evaluators’ missed deadlines are forcing release of mental patients,” Local News, May 14].
The issue of inadequate capacity throughout public mental health is of longstanding duration. It was only a matter of time before demand for evaluations of possible involuntary treatment exceeded the system’s capacity to respond in a timely manner.
Those of us who work in the public sector system every day aren’t surprised by the increased demand for evaluations. Access to care in the public sector is difficult and often slow. The result is people getting discouraged and going without treatment. Treatment works, but only if you get it.
The needed response here is to increase system capacity to meet that increased demand. This means hiring more evaluators. Anything less denies services to those in need of care, and subjects those in need of care and the community to unnecessary and preventable risk.
It is unacceptable for there to be anything less than adequate capacity to respond in a timely manner to evaluations. The county must step up to this emergency and direct some of the sales tax revenue to hire more evaluators. Patients, their families and the entire community are depending on it.
Jonathan R. Beard, president of the National Association of Social Workers-Washington State Chapter, Seattle