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Mental illness often treated like a crime, not a disease

By TOM SEIFERT Murray

EDITOR:

This country has reverted back to the 1800s with mental illness issues. Instead of being placed in a facility where mentally ill people could receive proper care, these people are placed in jail or prison where they don't receive proper care.

I have had open heart surgery due to heart disease. A person who is mentally ill has a disease of the brain. He is not a criminal. He has a disease that requires proper attention, meds, counseling, and a stable environment that is safe and secure with supervision. This is the only way to keep a person with mental illness away from repeating violations and staying out of jail.

Western Kentucky is in desperate need of a mental health/drug court that works. Most people with mental illness are not aware of their disease. We need good facilities for treatment of mental health issues -- not jails.

The ratio of mentally ill people vs. criminals without mental illness incarcerated is staggering. A person diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder has severe mental illness. They can make threats in the morning and can't remember what they said in the afternoon.

These people can't receive the proper drug regimen they need before becoming a victim in the court system. We can do better than this. It's less expensive, more efficient, and more humane, to treat mental illness like it's not a crime, but a disease.

TOM SEIFERT

Murray

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