Las Vegas Sun

October 9, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Nevada must act on mental health

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Readers of the articles by the Sacramento Bee, which appeared in the Sun, about the “patient dumping” of James F. Brown learned about the challenges a person with mental illness deals with in order to maintain stability. (The biographical movie “A Beautiful Mind” depicts a prominent math professor’s torment from schizophrenic hallucinations, which also antagonize Brown.)

Besides illustrating the recurring extraordinary challenges that a mental disorder can cause, the Sun’s Thursday article details California’s exemplary mental health integrated network, which restored Brown’s stability. The Sacramento Bee articles are instructive for our Nevada legislators. If legislators do not have a special session to address Nevada’s woefully inadequate mental health system, they should consider making an exception to their current “cutoff” date and work on reform now.

Nevada is at risk for lawsuits. J. Patrick Coolican’s recent column warned about some other false economy: “Our jails and prisons have become de facto mental health facilities. ... We end up paying anyway, through emergency room care or jail beds.”

Americans pay dearly when massacres result from the tiny fraction of the mentally ill — recently from males in their 20s — whom we have chosen to ignore. Besides improved treatment, national mental health reform should include a universal background check (which also lists felons). A background check is the most viable compromise for gun safety reform.

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