Appreciates bishops' aid - Catholic Courier

Appreciates bishops’ aid

To the editor:

Your article "Bishops: Show care for the mentally ill" (March print edition) has given me a glimmer of hope. For too long those in our communities who suffer from severe mental illness have been cut off from most community services. Now the State of New York intends to further cut hospitals "to consolidate" with the intent to move more people to community-based services.

In the ’70s and ’80s "de-institutionalization" moved people out of hospitals, but there was little preparation, and monies were not used to care for them. Instead, government funds were used to build parks, while the ill received no new help. There is good reason to believe that NY’s plan will exacerbate the situation, especially in smaller cities.

In Onondaga County, agencies, such as TLS, have been somewhat successful in creating housing and programs for their clients. Group homes with case managers and decent living quarters are available. Providers of services have better connections with people leaving hospitals, and people do not as often "fall through the cracks." We need voices such as that of the Bishops to help make communities aware and responsive to the grave need to protect the ill. Police need to better understand and see them as vulnerable citizens.

The media has not been easy or fair toward the ill, portraying the ill as highly suspicious or permanently anti-social. Few movies contain characters who show sympathy for the suffering or for families who have loved ones stuck in a debilitating affliction as schizophrenia or bipolar. When NY wants to transfer more people to community based "systems," I feel they need to have a plan on how this is going to happen. These are the poor and marginalized, which in justice we need to serve. United with them, let the Church cry out – as the Bishops are doing.

Frank Netti


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