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Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 2, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Mental-health care: Outpatient treatment is only a last resort

The Reuters’ guest column understandably laments their son’s death [“Ask candidates about reforms to mental-health care and Joel’s Law,” Opinion, Sept. 24]. He was shot by the police. He had been prematurely released from a hospital. The Reuter’s fault mental-health professionals for not listening to the them.

I too believe in assisted outpatient treatment programs, but only as a last resort to prevent hospitalization that includes violence. It would help greatly when all outpatient day programs are so appealing with arts, classes on cooking or seeking employment or relationships, group and individual therapy, exercises (cardio and isometric) and games that treatment is widely sought. Right now there is a big difference between what esteemed places offer (like the University of Washington) and other hospitals and clinics.

In fact, a patient can be confined for 90 days beyond the 14 days the Reuters’ wrote about. People can be confined for years.  That is why we must always balance civil liberties and civil rights of the patient and the need to force medical care only when necessary. Testimony from relatives should only be taken when immediate family members have recently visited their mentally ill relative.

John Freeburg, Bremerton

Comments | More in Mental illness | Topics: Joel's Law, John Freeburg, mental health

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