Opinion » Letters

Money trumps common sense once again



Thank you for writing an informative article about the proposed mental health facility going up in Templeton (“What’s he building in there?” Jan. 29). I do agree that there needs to be more in-depth research on who is building this facility; I don’t agree with most of the reasons people are protesting one being built.

This county is in desperate need of a place for those suffering from a mental illness to get good care. I ask your readers this: If it was a cancer treatment center, would you protest that? Mental illness is a treatable illness, although not curable at this time. We are making huge strides in understanding the brain and developing more precise drugs to treat the different kinds of mental health issues. People (men, women, and children) with mental health issues need a safe, structured environment to go to, with high-quality health-care providers, and a compassionate community to be a part of.

What makes me sad is that low-income people without the resources or health insurance are going without treatment—or, at the best, are getting substandard treatment through county mental health. We don’t have enough psychiatrists at county mental health because we warehouse our families and neighbors with mental illness in prisons, and the prisons pay their doctors better. So once again money trumps common sense: Common sense shows us that if we get people the treatment they need and provide them with a safe environment and follow-up care, then they have a chance of controlling their illness, 
just like anyone with diabetes or 
cancer would.

We need a shift in our thinking about mental health. There are extraordinary people who have made big differences in our lives: Think about Winston Churchill, who was bipolar, or Vincent Van Gogh, who suffered from depression and other mental health issues. Think about our vets who have come home with brain injuries and PTSD—even family members with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Have compassion, and talk about this issue with your family and friends. You may be surprised about how many people on the Central Coast are living in pain because they can’t get help.

-- Pamela Barrett - Shandon

-- Pamela Barrett - Shandon

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