Re Donald Woolson's commentary in the editorial section of The Times of Nov. 2 ("Policy Makes Short Shrift of Mentally Ill"):
Although I am a public mental health employee, I am speaking as a private citizen, but with knowledge of the issue to which he writes.
Mr. Woolson's impassioned pleas are misdirected. For years (it seems forever), the chronic mentally ill have been "second-class" patients within the mental health system, shunned by the private sector in most instances because of limited funding, and mainly due to the nature of their problems (in and out of hospitals, on the streets, in jails) and the seemingly no end for constant treatment with medications (talk therapy is rarely effective without the medications), and because there is no cure for the chronic illness. The public sector provided what it could to the chronic cases, but also gave them a lower priority because there was no point in expending large amounts of time and money on patients whose expected recovery was never!
On the other hand, the private sector always attracted the "couple on the verge of divorce, the man who exposes himself to young girls, the woman unable to hold a job because of her anxiety, the rebellious teen-ager flunking out of school," etc. These are behavioral, life crises cases which can be worked with in talk therapy, and in most instances, can be effectively and conclusively treated, i.e., cured. The only barrier was of a financial nature . . . if they had third-party insurance or personal finances, they were most desirable cases.