Topic: mental health
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November 21, 2013 at 7:12 PM
We can create change through education and increased awareness
I want to commend The Seattle Times and columnist Jonathan Martin for a very thoughtful and powerful piece on peer bridgers. The column helped increase the public’s understanding of mental illness and the mental-health system’s shortcomings [“The rare mental-health fixers,” Opinion, Nov. 21].
We need more outpatient mental-health support to assist individuals with transitions and throughout their recovery journey. Peer bridgers provide such support and also reduce demand on an overburdened psychiatric inpatient system that leaves too many people with inadequate and inhumane care.
November 4, 2013 at 7:25 AM
Ensure early diagnosis to prevent needless suffering
In his column, Jonathan Martin wrote about correctional facilities trying to fill cracks caused by a broken mental-health system [“Mental health in prisons: It’s a crime,” Opinion, Oct. 19]. That’s not the way it should be.
We as a society need to recognize that mental illness is a brain disease that should be treated like any other disorder of a vital organ. Providing early and effective intervention and continuity of care well before the potential for incarceration is critical. This approach would certainly be more economical and humane than incarceration. The people falling through those cracks, after all, are our relatives, neighbors, friends and colleagues.
Medical experts agree mental-health recovery is achievable, but patients and their families often do not realize that mental illness is treatable. Even after diagnosis, many patients become “lost” during the transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment. According to a 2010 Medicaid study, 41 percent of patients with schizophrenia didn’t receive psychiatric follow-up in the month following hospital discharge.
It impacts the bottom line: People with schizophrenia represent 1 percent of those with mental illness but account for 4 percent of health-care spending. To be more cost-effective, tax dollars would be better spent on the front end — on prevention, treatment and services — as opposed to incarceration.
But it’s not just an economic issue; it’s about how we define ourselves as a society. Our ultimate goal must be to ensure early diagnosis, and access to treatment and services to prevent needless suffering. Only by ensuring that all patients receive the services and treatment they need, can we offer these individuals a chance to become functioning, contributing members of society.
Michelle Kramer, Titusville, N.J.
October 28, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Lawmakers in Olympia must focus on mental health issues
Kudos to Jonathan Martin for a great column on the issue of mental health in our state’s prisons [“Mental health in prisons: It’s a crime,” Opinion, Oct. 20].
The issue has been swept under the rug for far too long, and something needs to be done about it. For the offenders who will be released one day, it is vital for them to receive mental-health treatment before they are released. If they don’t receive that kind of treatment, the odds of them ending up back in prison is very high.
I hope some of our lawmakers in Olympia have read his column and use it as a tool to focus on mental-health issues.
Jeff Swanson, Everett
September 10, 2013 at 4:22 PM
Learn from it, and fix it
But first, write about it so that the voters of the city and the state actually see what has been wrought since President Reagan claimed that we would provide better care to those confined in mental institutions if they were moved into our communities.
I am not afraid to walk around or through street people, but I hate that they are there. I want our community to see our obligation to confront the fact of their presence.
I do not want more police officers to move them on to another corner. These people stand, sit and lie down, in evidence of the cruelty that ever greater profits flowing up to the ever fewer do not “lift all boats,” and no longer even “trickle down.”
Janet Winans, Seattle
July 26, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Community Psychiatric Clinic needs state funding
The recent article on mental health was a shocker for most of us at Cascade Hall, a Community Psychiatric Clinic (CPC) group home. [“Feds put state on notice over mental-health care,” NW Saturday, July 20.]
May I suggest that the laws change, not the system? CPC is doing a competent job here. The problem of privatized care is escalating costs. None of our clients, that I know of, can find appropriate suitable private care. We need government subsidies as well as private donations.
I have spent 23 years as a client at CPC in King County.
Marian Mallett, Seattle
Mental-health care is a necessity
As a former director of a community mental-health center, I strongly agree with The Times’ editorial on mental health. [“Feds muck up state’s mental-health system,” Opinion, July 23.]
We must realize the state’s community centers are charged with dealing with our most difficult mental-health population, those with chronic and acute disturbances. These patients demand and need extensive and specialized care, including medication management and daily living skills.
Seriously underfunded community centers are already stretching their service programs, and this additional administrative burden will dilute resources for necessary care.
It is bewildering to think our federal representatives can come up with such a boneheaded directive. Competitive bidding may work for construction projects, but it surely will lead to a “race to the bottom,” as states and counties are encouraged to focus on a financial bottom line, which de-emphasizes quality of care.
Even now, there is a tendency under such conditions to hire less-experienced clinicians, sometimes with no more than a bachelor’s degree, to treat these most-troubled patients.
Mental-health funding has been chronically underfunded, and it seems only when there is a tragedy or a shooting do we realize the necessity of stable and adequate mental-health-care funding.
I hope the state appeals this blockheaded federal directive, and finds a more humane and workable compromise.
David Celio, Seattle
July 17, 2013 at 6:58 AM
Speaking up makes a difference
Kate Riley, I want to thank you for the wonderful piece about autism. [“Column: Ads expose a dialogue about autism,” Opinion, July 14.]
I truly appreciate your effort to educate the community about identity and mental-health issues. Though autism isn’t considered a mental illness per se, those who live with it, like your son, are more likely to be defined by it rather than accepted for it.
Only by speaking up about it will more people come to understand that a wide range of health issues — whether it’s mental illness, depression, emotional disturbances, post-traumatic stress disorder or autism — are common in our society.
Once we all begin to comprehend this, to truly and deeply acknowledge it, then we can come together as a community. Thank you again.
Steve McLean, Sound Mental Health director of communications, Seattle
July 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM
It is time to act
The time is now. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the most expensive disease in America. By 2050, it could bankrupt our health-care system.
I live with Alzheimer’s every day, both personally and professionally. My mother lived with dementia for nearly 20 years before her death. Like more than 50 percent of those currently living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, she was never formally diagnosed. My father, now 97, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 15 years ago.
I am not alone. In 2010, there were approximately 110,000 Washingtonians living with Alzheimer’s disease, being looked after by more than 300,000 caregivers, mostly unpaid family members. We expect those numbers to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s is now the third-leading cause of death among seniors in Washington.
We are at a critical moment in the Alzheimer’s epidemic. It is incumbent upon our nation’s leaders to ensure the promise of the country’s first-ever National Alzheimer’s Plan. Sen. Patty Murray is a leading advocate for improved health-care quality and coverage. Please join me in urging her, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to support full implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan with vital resources for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and caregiver support.
Bob Le Roy, president and chief executive officer, Western & Central Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Seattle
May 31, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Provide mentally ill with inpatient services
The lack of access to psychiatric outpatient services and psychiatric inpatient care is creating a very dangerous situation for people with mental illnesses and for emergency patients in general [“Editorial: Stop ‘boarding’ mentally ill in emergency rooms,” Opinion, May 29]. These patients often wait several days for inpatient treatment, which may include being transferred to a hospital far away.
According to a 2008 survey of emergency-department directors, almost 80 percent said their hospital “boards” psychiatric patients in the emergency department instead of moving them to an inpatient bed.
Emergency rooms have become de facto psychiatric inpatient service providers, according to a recently published letter in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The problem is at our doorstep. People with psychiatric emergencies have nowhere else to turn, and they are in a difficult circumstance waiting for inpatient psychiatric services.
Andrew Sama, president, American College of Emergency Physicians, Manhasset, N.Y.
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