Psych units at risk

To the editor:

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Kansas has stressed for several years that Kansas’ private, community hospitals’ in-patient psychiatric units are at risk (“LMH closing psych unit,” Journal-World, Aug. 26). LMH’s decision to close its psychiatric unit points to a fragmented mental health care system that is fracturing under incredible demographic and economic strains.

An individual’s ability and right to be a productive member of society is challenged when adequate and appropriate community-based services are not available. Necessary services include treatment, housing, employment, education and transportation. Individuals with mental illness face magnified isolation and life disruption when they have to leave their communities to receive treatment. NAMI Kansas believes this practice frustrates recovery, propels stigma and strains families.

As the Kansas Legislature focuses on the future of its state psychiatric hospitals, NAMI Kansas reiterates that the public psychiatric hospital system is Kansas’ safety net. We urge expanded community-based and family-centered systems of care for individuals with mental illness.

Closure of this unit is a loss for the Lawrence community and its citizens. Those with mental illnesses deserve to receive treatment and services in their homes and communities, close to those who love them.

Karen Ford Manza,

executive director,

NAMI Kansas,