Letters to the Editor

Letter: Mental health care

Regarding the Herald's Nov. 22 editorial, "New mental health facility good start to big problem."

In about 1976, we heard in Olympia that the Mid-Columbia Mental Health Center would be a National Institute of Mental Health, state and community center jointly funded that solved complex, multi-layered fiscal and service delivery problems within Benton-Franklin counties.

Today, only the indigent may be considered eligible for long-term care by the state. Others may receive short-term emergency care at public expense.

This mental health system had been created by mental health laws passed by the state legislators since the late 1980s. These laws had created the county Regional Support Networks, allowing the filling of jails and prisons with the mentally ill.

State laws need to be revised. Legislators must accept this challenge and work with their communities. It may be a task poorly accepted by county political officers and union leaders, service organizations, etc., without voter attention.

Together with NIMH, State Mental Health Authority and Benton and Franklin counties, mental health care will be available for the mentally ill as they establish residency and employment within our counties.

ED KENEALY, Richland