Letters to the Editor

We must continue to focus on mental illness

Re “Did Mike Lehmkuhl Have to Die?” (Page 1A, July 31): Thanks to The Sacramento Bee for keeping the issues of mental illness and homelessness before readers. Mental illness, shrouded in stigma, is misunderstood.

Mental illness is just that, an illness, which, like cancer, can be put into remission and does not have to be terminal. But great change is necessary.

Friends and family need more access to their loved ones in treatment centers. Currently, facilities can neither confirm nor deny if the mentally ill individuals are there. Likewise, in the hearings of the type mentioned in the article, no family member or friend can be notified without the patient’s permission.

A hallmark of mental illness is that often the person affected does not realize how gravely ill he or she is. The more serious the disease, the longer treatment and follow-up. If better mental health care solutions are found, the issue could reduce the number of homeless people.

Diana Lee Vriend, Sacramento

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