Las Vegas Sun

February 21, 2019

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Letter to the editor:

Action needed for mentally ill

A mental health task force to address the lack of mental health care is a necessity in Nevada. It is deplorable that this same lack of care is noticeable across the country.

Several years ago, I participated in a mental health mission trip to a Third World country that puts the United States’ mental health care system to shame.

I have worked for the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services and at the Clark County Detention Center. I left the job with SNAMHS after only a few months because of the conditions of the system. I have seen the mentally ill being locked up in jail rather than hospitalized. In the 1800s, before Dorothea Dix began her campaign for proper mental health care, these conditions were the norm. We have not learned from history. It is repulsive that there is better mental health treatment in the corrections system than in clinics and hospitals.

When the afflicted are released from corrections, they are given a 30-day supply of medications. Frequently, it takes as long as three months to obtain an appointment with a provider in the state mental health system.

Those in power are aware of the problems cursing our mental health care system. They all speak of it, but no one acts. Our lawmakers need to not only listen but to respond and act — today.