To the editor:
On Nov. 2, Kansas voters made history when they overwhelmingly approved Amendment No. 2, changing the state constitution to guarantee that the Legislature will never have the authority to prevent someone with a mental illness from voting.
But Amendment No. 2 did more than protect the voting rights of Kansans with mental illness. It chipped away at the stigma that is too often associated with mental illness and that often creates a barrier for those who need treatment.
Their support signaled that Kansas has come a long way in its perception of mental illness in the last 35 years. No longer is Kansas a place where thousands of residents with mental illness are institutionalized. No longer is it a place where people with mental illness are viewed strictly as “incompetent” or incapable of living independent lives. And no longer is it a place where the stigma against people with mental illness is sanctioned by law. For this, the voters of Kansas deserve our sincere gratitude. Thank you!
Given this positive shift in public attitudes, we are now positioned to make the necessary investments in our public mental health system that will ensure that the one in four persons who experience a mental health disorder in any given year and the one in 17 persons who live with a serious illness, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression or post traumatic stress, will be able to get the treatment they need to live life fully and remain contributing members of our community.