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Mental health system has many success stories

Whereas the lengthy News article on mental health in a recent edition was accurate, it says nothing about the many individuals with a mental illness who are living well in housing provided by institutions such as Living Opportunities of DePaul and Transitional Services. It does not mention those who maintain a steady road toward recovery with the supports provided by Compeer, Peer Connection and Restoration Society’s Empowerment program. There are also the many who maintain personal wellness by accessing services in one of many community clinics throughout Erie County provided by Spectrum, Lakeshore, Horizons and others. Although there are individuals who met a tragic outcome, there are many more to whom Crisis Services responded positively. It is unfair to single out a system’s flaws without acknowledging its many successes. It is also unfair to address those with mental illness as though the few tragedies mentioned can somehow represent the majority.

The article pays little attention to the lack of adequate resources. There has been a reduction in public dollars for services for those with a mental illness; and the system is increasingly pressed to do all it can to reduce costs. One way it does this is by responding primarily to the needs of those who cost the system the most. As that happens, others easily become lost and their needs go unaddressed until it is too late.

While it is reasonable to attempt cost reductions, it can easily become dangerous when that becomes the primary goal. If we wish to avoid the tragedies noted in the article, we need to provide the resources to develop the supports and responses to those with mental illness before they become tragic.

Charles J. Sabatino

Amherst