Letters to the Editor

Treating mental illness properly needs support

The recent mass shooting in Roseburg, Ore., and all the previous mass shootings, lead to public discussions about gun control and mental health, with gun control proposals grabbing most of the headlines. I want to address the mental health side.

After supporting families coping with the mental illness of a loved one for over 10 years, some things are clear about what helps to contain the worst possibilities of some forms of mental illness. The problem with mental illness is not mental illness; it is untreated mental illness. Treatment includes: 1) the right medication; 2) an effective therapist; 3) accurate education about the mental illness involved, and, 4) a supportive network of family or friends who understand the illness.

When these four pillars of treatment are in place, a person with a mental illness can lead a happy, productive life, as is the case with millions of people in our society. When these four elements are not in place, sometimes, with some very few people, someone with some form of mental illness can, in their warped thinking, become dangerous.

Untreated mental illness is the issue, not mental illness. It is in society’s best interest to support these four pillars of treatment fully.

Tom Smith, Karla Smith Foundation president, Swansea