Readers' Letters

That “Homeless mentally ill don’t fit in society” (July 26) is a given, as Jim Bellah states in his letter to the editor.

His letter is correct that the mental institutions should not have been shut down, but he is overlooking a lot of things, stating that, “All the liberals thought it was inhumane to warehouse the mentally ill so they closed Dammasch State Hospital ...”.

What liberals like me did want was community mental health clinics to take the place of the hospitals. The excellent community health centers of the 1980s and early 1990s did keep a lot of people safe and out of the hospital. But these clinics have been depleted by funding cuts, while many mentally ill people now get their “treatment” in jails and prisons.

According to friends of mine, Dammasch was an excellent hospital and the treatment (patients) received was extremely helpful. Some of these friends became homeless, but now are in excellent recovery thanks to meds and regular therapy.

According to Dr. M. Brewster Smith, a University of California psychologist, two surviving members of the Congressional Commission on Mental Illness and Health said, ‘’Extravagant claims were made for the benefits of shifting from state hospitals to community clinics. The professional community made mistakes and was overly optimistic, but the political community wanted to save money.” (The New York Times, Oct. 30, 1984)

The Times’ article states, “In California ... the number of patients in state mental hospitals reached a peak of 37,500 in 1959 when Edmund G. Brown was governor, fell to 22,000 when Ronald Reagan attained that office in 1967, and continued to decline under his administration ...”

I hope this letter and the Times’ article clear up some of the misinformation.

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Don’t blame liberals for shutting clinics

Letter writer Jim Bellah blames the number of homeless mentally ill on “liberals” (“Homeless mentally ill don’t fit in society,” July 26). The “liberal” who started deinstitutionalization was Ronald Reagan.

The idea was to provide more humane and effective treatment in their homes and communities. Thanks to the policies of conservatives, who would now regard Reagan as socialist, the funding to house and treat the mentally ill never materialized. Now the costs of their economic policies have starved governments and led to the wholesale breakdown of treatment of the mentally ill.

They have nowhere to go but the streets, along with those who have lost their homes to banksters protected by their puppets in Washington.

Both parties in the corporate-dominated Duopoly have also brought us ruinously expensive endless war and the disgrace of tens of thousands of homeless veterans struggling to reintegrate into a society that has forgotten its collective responsibilities.

Rick Staggenborg

President, Take Back America for the People

Coos Bay

Contract Publishing

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