To the editor:
As a mental health client and advocate, I would like to focus attention on the decimation of services for the mentally ill that has occurred over the past few years. I know this community has a great capacity to stand up against injustice as exemplified by its demands for rape victim services at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and its fight to save our local SRS office. Now, I plead for your help as you consider a few of the things facing the mentally ill in our community:
Significant reductions in state hospital beds that lead to waiting lists.
No mental health unit at LMH. Although successfully provided in the past, it was closed because it “lost money.” Help me to understand what a “community hospital” means.
Community mental health centers, like our Bert Nash Center, have seen their state funding slashed 90 percent!
Many of our mentally ill have limited resources and thus rely on Medicaid to help meet their mental health care needs. A recently announced modification to state Medicaid recipients eliminates mental health services.
The judicial system has become the “entry point” for “services” for far too many of our mentally ill citizens. Once in this system, they languish and deteriorate in our jails and prisons. Homelessness is another dismal alternative.
I weep for the suffering I am seeing among our community’s mentally ill. Will you, my fellow citizens, rise up once more against a great moral injustice and help end this outrage against some of our most vulnerable citizens? Please!