Letter to the editor: Mental health progress

To the editor:

After nearly 35 years of jousting at windmills, there is finally some good news! The County Commission has authorized the preparation of a ballot question that will address the severe lack of a continuum of care for the mentally ill. And Justice Matters, who opposed the earlier ballot question because of the heavy price tag aimed at jail expansion, has voiced support for this ballot question. I too, as a person with a severe and persistent mental illness, am so grateful to finally anticipate some real progress.

Before people become too excited as they glad-handedly pat each other on the back over this achievement, let me assure you that “justice” for the mentally ill is far from being achieved. The political compromise, in order to achieve public support, was the cheapest option considered, which leaves the original mental health package $885,000 short of the proposal. That’s a lot of mental health services left unmet. Please remember these improved steps are just now being considered after decades of state and federal cuts to mental health services.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Memorial Hospital continues to add millions of dollars to the west side expansion plan, while continuing to refuse to fund a mental health hospitalization unit. In the past, LMH had a highly successful mental health unit, before they decided to close it. Hospitalization should always be a last resort, but it is still sorely needed in northeast Kansas.

I hope we can all applaud and support this new ballot question, but please keep in mind that there is much left undone!

Bill Simons,



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