I read the Commentary in Easter Sunday's Times (March 30) "Plea for a Son Who Can't Get Help," and I was filled with fear and sympathy for the mother whose son was the subject of this report.
This mother's plea is not an isolated event or an infrequent one. There are literally thousands of families in Orange County alone who are struggling with similar problems involving their mentally ill children. It is, in fact, a very difficult task for any family to get the sort of treatment needed for a very sick mentally ill person. However, if one knows how to approach the problem solutions can be found.
In the first place, the patient does not have to be a danger to themselves or others, but they can get help if they are "gravely mentally disabled." This young man is not a criminal, he is merely sick. Judges have a way of ignoring this fact and the patient--who thinks he is well and not in need of care--can often, during a brief hearing in court, put up a front of normality.
I have a schizophrenic 36-year-old son. He has been ill since he was 7 years old. I have been through these problems many times. They are not unsuperable. My advice to the mother of this unfortunate boy is that she makes contact at once with the Orange County Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a support group of parents and other relatives, which has a long experience in dealing with these situations.
I recommend this to any others who read this who are having similar difficulties. The Orange County Alliance is located at 17341 Irvine Blvd., Suite 105, Tustin, Calif. 92680. (714) 544-8488. They will help.
WILLIAM H. DAVIS, M.D.