New York must address mental health care crisis

The News article, "More resources urged for ECMC psych unit," echoes the voices of decades of lack of funding for mental health care. The move to deinstitutionalization in the 1960s rightly saw the discharge of hundreds of hospitalized mentally ill people. The improvement of psychiatric medications and treatments enabled this to happen. Funds saved by no longer supporting hospitalization were promised for increased housing and community treatment facilities. These funds were not used as promised by our government officials.

Overcrowding at ECMC's Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program is another symptom of indifference and misuse of funds by those who are obligated to keep those promises. Lack of doctors and closing of hospital beds for mentally ill people complicates this even more. Supervised, supportive housing, supported employment, better wages for counselors and staff, adequate treatment when necessary, acceptance of families as valuable partners and recognition that healing is possible for mentally ill people if resources are provided in the community are vital. Let's help the helpers.

There will always be mentally ill people who relapse, who reject treatment because of a brain that is not functioning properly, who do not respond to medications or who cannot live without supervision. One third of people with schizophrenia will not recover, no matter what help they receive. Unfortunately for them and for us, financial investment is critical for their safety and ours. They become homeless, stigmatized and incarcerated by a society that scorns and blames them when it is we who are responsible.

We must let our elected officials and Office of Mental Health hear from us that we demand better care and resources for our mentally ill. It is irresponsible to cut $137 million from the Mental Health Services budget. The crisis in mental health care is screaming at us to step up.

Marcy Rose

Vice President, National

Alliance on Mental Illness, Buffalo


True negotiations needed to achieve Mideast peace

U.N. recognition of Palestinian independence would create an injustice of epic proportions. If the Palestinians were simply seeking an independent state, they would have had it 11 years ago when, under President Bill Clinton's sponsorship, Israel offered all they had demanded. Instead, Yasser Arafat walked away with no counter-offer, and initiated four years of violence that left thousands of Israeli civilians dead or injured. This refusal of an opportunity for their own country was repeated by the Arabs at least four other times since 1947.

Why? The Palestinian leaders' aim is the "redemption" of all land between the Jordan River and the sea, something they've openly said they will accomplish in stages. Securing the West Bank will result in all of Israel, including its only international airport, being vulnerable to rocket fire by rogue elements (regrettably uncontrollable by the Palestinian government, of course).

Any guarantees of Israel's security by the United Nations would be hollow. Despite the U.N. armistice pledge to prevent Hezbollah's rearming after it sent thousands of rockets into Israel in 2006, that radical organization now has many times more rockets than it did at the start of hostilities.

Only direct negotiations will lead to peace. Anything less is a guarantee of continued violence.

Richard S. Laub



It's time to connect the dots on bullying

When you can't find something right in front of you, the old adage, "if it had teeth it would bite you" becomes true. So it is with the suicide of Williamsville North student Jamey Rodemeyer.

It's well past the time that we adults looked closely at the social values we espouse and start "connecting the dots" as the trail leads back to us. Bullying is violence, and suicide is violence to oneself. The taunting, teasing and attacks of juveniles on each other is part of growing up, and friends, teachers and counselors and all those adults in a school can dilute the emotional impact, but only by about 17 percent as the stats go.

What kind of influence is that compared to the culture that extols violence as a respected and time-honored method of solving problems? Aren't we adults responsible for a pre-emptive war against a nation that posed no threat to us, based on lies (weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds)? Haven't we as a nation defiled our democracy by accepting torture as a means of gathering intelligence, and most recently executing a man without conclusive evidence of guilt?

Those we elect to office are often "facts-challenged." This is especially tragic when it's our president and secretary of education whose policies are destroying the American public school system.

In the words of W.H. Auden, "I and the public know; What all school children learn; Those to whom evil is done; Do evil in return."

Less money for our global militarism and more for public education proves to our young people that we adults really do care for them and want them to grow up to become one of us.

Ray Peterson

Teacher, Hutch-Tech



Many people suffering with no financial help

I am writing in regard to the saga of Melanie and Dan D'Andreas, which was featured in the Sept. 25 Spotlight story, "When life gets hard." They had my heart, soul and inspiration until I read about their $27 million settlement for his work-related injury.

That revelation had me posturing to the position that the circumstances leading up to the accident and the subsequent debilitating lifestyle are unfortunate, but they have ample resources at their disposal to mitigate the pain.

There is another part of the disability world in which many of us do not have such resources at our disposal to mitigate our pain. Mother Nature imposed on me, in midlife, a very debilitating disability that continues to be a progressive degeneration type of muscular dystrophy. There is no cure. As debilitating as this handicap is, I am reduced to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and working part time to make ends meet. With SSDI rules being what they are, my part-time income is about to be diminished, further compounding the angst of making ends meet.

My disability is such that I no longer possess any sense of balance and my twisted legs are a reduced-strength mess. Over short distances, I can assume the erect position and ambulate with the aid of a reciprocal walker, but longer distances must be traversed with the aid of a battery-powered scooter.

With all due respect, the D'Andreas family has been provided an extraordinary blessing -- an extraordinary resource to adequately address the misfortune.

Lou Marconi