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Outpatient care is best option for mentally ill

Readers' Letters

Community mental health in the form of 'outpatient treatment' or consumer-run drop-in centers is very effective for keeping people out of the hospital and off the streets (Millions buy nightmares for Oregon's mentally ill, Aug. 5).

It's my understanding that there are 'turf wars' between the inpatient and outpatient providers, which may account for the closure of the drop-in centers. After all, the inpatient services currently are the recipients of most of the funding.

Cascadia closed most or all of the consumer-run drop-in centers several years ago. I used to work at one of them, and knew James Chasse, Jr. when he used to spend nearly all day, every day, there. Had he had 'The Mezz' to go to, I am convinced he would have taken his meds regularly, had counseling as needed and not been wandering the streets, where he was ultimately killed by cruel and unusual police attack.

Although I cannot confirm Jenny Westberg's $20 per-patient per-day figure, I do know for certain that community drop-in centers, where mental health consumers are paid to assist one another and professionals are present, costs a small fraction of hospitalization.

One woman I know was in and out of hospitals for years and years. When she started going to The Mezz, she no longer needed hospitalization. Last I heard, she had not been hospitalized for more than six years.

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Civil commitment should be easier

A civil commitment can be the best thing to ever happen to a mentally ill person (Suicidal? Psychotic? Dangerous? Who should be committed?, July 15).

Why do we allow irrational people to make decisions about their care and expect the results to be rational? What a barbaric system that lets a mentally ill person refuse treatment, which they are incapable of understanding that they need, yet jails them when they commit an offense due to said illness?

These people are no more to blame for their illness than an epileptic or diabetic or cancer patient. If a diabetic causes an accident, they don't go to jail. Mentally ill people go to jail every day when they should instead be treated for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Sick!

Make it easier to commit. It is better for everyone.

M. J. McGee

Wellesley, Mass.

Forced treatment violates civil rights

Aileen Kroll, the writer of the article 'Civil commitment an essential tool' (My View, Aug. 12), accuses an earlier guest opinion writer of being 'long on passion but short on facts' (Millions buy nightmares for Oregon's mentally ill, Aug. 5); ironically, the same thing could be said of Ms. Kroll's article, which itself is composed of many inaccuracies and falsehoods.

For example, she says many people 'have a neurological condition known as anosognosia - lack of insight into their own illness.' In fact, there is no such 'neurological condition' - it is simply a term made up by people who favor forced psychiatric treatment to describe anyone who disagrees with a psychiatric diagnosis they have been given. There is nothing 'neurological' about it.

Virtually all psychiatric diagnoses are subjective, and can be neither proved nor disproved by any objective standards. On top of that, common psychiatric 'treatments' often leave people worse off than they were before. Using the power of law to force someone to undergo a treatment that ultimately only makes them worse is a major human rights violation, and seems to me like a crime against humanity.

Ms. Kroll and her friends at the Treatment Advocacy Center totally ignore the effects of poverty in causing many of the problems experienced by people who they call 'the mentally ill,' and they also downplay many of the very serious and sometimes deadly side effects of the drugs which they want to force on people.

Kent Reedy

Reno, Nevada

Cry for help demands response

I recall a situation in 1973 when I was a student at University of Oregon attending a hearing similar to the one in this story (Suicidal? Psychotic? Dangerous? Who should be committed?, July 15).

A fellow student was behaving strangely, threw a typewriter through his dorm window, broke furniture and yelled and screamed unprovoked. A Eugene judge released him into my custody until his mother could arrive from Hawaii to take him home.

For several days, I had to watch and deal with this unpredictable man. In hindsight, I believe he was mentally distressed and crying out for help. His mother arrived at the end of the week, we packed his things and he went home with her.

I received news several months later that he committed suicide.

A tragic end to a story I was a part of but didn't fully understand, then or now. I'm still left with uncertainty even now, but to ignore someone's plight in a situation like this is definitely not the solution. Something needs to be done.

Roger Swayze

Southeast Portland

Funding isn't the real issue

This is an excellent article. For once the mental health 'advocates' such as Jason Renaud were not blaming the police (Suicidal? Psychotic? Dangerous? Who should be committed?, July 15).

But Renaud (as well as others) misses the point in this conclusion: '… that if community mental health services were adequately funded, few sufferers of mental illness would get to the point where civil commitment would be an issue.'

As long as the person is an adult, there is little anyone can do to force (other than civil commitment) that individual into 'treatment.' There is not one shred of evidence in any of the stories relating to those mentioned in the article that had all the services been adequately funded (whatever that means), they would have entered through the door on their own.

Larry Norton

Northwest Portland

Acupuncture aids daily functioning

Regarding mental illness and problems around commitment of those suffering from mental illness to the care of the state or institutions, there is an often-neglected middle road: Acupuncture most simply supplied by the five ear points needling (NADA - national acupuncture detoxification association) can improve daily functioning if received daily in a positive context.

NADA treatments should be offered for free in every program that offers food or services to street people. It can be taught to aides and anyone who could pass the food handlers' requirements. It is a scaled-down version of full body acupuncture, now available for $15 per treatment at the many community acupuncture clinics in Portland.

Carolyn Peck

North Portland

The problem is often poor choices

Regarding Jenny Westberg's 'Millions buy nightmares for Oregon's mentally ill' (Aug. 5), from the security video I saw, James Chasse Jr. was killed by bad cops who were never charged - not by the mental health system or lack of it.

The outcry against his death was not because of his race, but because he died at the hands of police. Others got the benefit of using that and the race card.

Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis chose suicide-by-cop in making threatening moves against the commands of police, and Otis actually shot an officer.

Despite this, the cult of victimology and the grievance industry that drives it leave officers in a no-win situation of 'damned if you do/damned if you don't' with regard to lethal force to protect themselves and the public.

The grievance industry blames all minority failure and stupid choices on the majority population. It also becomes nearly taboo to address concern for those who are not of a 'minority' race for fear of an alleged racial preference. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' also halt discussion and debate on personal responsibility of those so aggrieved by alleged racism.

This in itself should be considered borderline mental illness. Given its spread throughout American culture among our fastest-growing demographic group, this mindset is cause for great concern for the peace, safety and stability of our communities.

Our community mental-health infrastructure is not the only thing that needs healing.

Daniel Roberts

Northeast Portland