Fast Focus: How can we improve mental health care in the Tri-Cities? Mental health differs from mental illness

May 12, 2013 

Given Gordon Bopp's article "Mental health reform should start now" (In Focus, May 5), I need to offer the following:

Bopp, president of the Washington chapter of the National Alliance Mental Illness (NAMI), states, "Mental health reform efforts are long overdue!"

That may be the only segment of his article I can support. His continuing mixing mental health and mental illness is reprehensible. It may not allow the reader to further become knowledgeable about mental health and/or mental illness.

The Washington State Legislature in their great wisdom passed a revised Chapter 71.24 Community Mental Health Services in 1988 or 1989. Chapter 71.05 Mental Illness had been passed in the late 1970s. Administrative Rules for both acts were drafted by DSHS with WAMI input, as were the two statutes.

One can argue that both statutes need to be visited by the state legislature prior to accepting further input from a county political faction. This has not occurred or is it likely to within the next decade.

The challenges may be insurmountable without a recognition that there is a difference between mental health and mental illness. Our community delivery systems continue not to provide the services needed to care for the individuals afflicted by mental health and/or the mentally ill. First we must learn to communicate. Bopp has continued to puzzle his readers.

-- ED KENEALY, Richland

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