The UCLA Department of Psychiatry certainly should be congratulated for planning to develop prevention services ("Prevention Becomes 4th Revolution in Psychiatry," by Lynn Simross, Sept. 17). It is of the utmost importance that the public become awakened to the great need for professional help for young families that can reduce the likelihood of serious mental and emotional disturbance. Unfortunately, Drs. Louis Jolyon West and Simon Wile do a serious disservice to their fellow professionals in the mental health field by presenting their plans as a "first" in this hemisphere. The fact is a sizable number of us have for many years been providing just those kinds of services, locally and nationally.
At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the Early Childhood Center in the Department of Psychiatry and the Thalians Mental Health Center has been doing this since 1970. More than 30,000 families in the Greater Los Angeles area have made use of the programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers that provide guidance to parents and evaluation of potential psychological problems in the early years. There are several major programs in other cities as well. Some have used ours as a model. Indeed some mental health professionals at UCLA have received training in our program. West and Wile seem happily oblivious of the important work done by their colleagues in this area.
SAUL L. BROWN, M.D.
Director of Psychiatry, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA