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This is in response to Dr. Erik Steele’s column of July 5. In speaking about “basic human freedoms, dignity, self-determination and tax dollars,” he fails to recognize that these same things apply to people with a mental illness. I once again see the prejudice against mental illness comes shining through. The reason Maine has not had an outpatient commitment law is because we have ample laws on the books that are ignored.
Passing another law is simply another attempt at trying to find an easy solution to a complex problem. It is recognized that community services need to be in place in order to achieve any type of improvement when it comes to mental health care. It is also recognized that people with mental health issues are largely the poorest people in society.
So are we going to provide for their basic needs – food, clothing and shelter? No! Give them free medication? No! We want to give them a law that if they don’t take the medications prescribed, they will go back in the hospital.
Forced medication is not the answer. Do you know the side effects of the medications you want to force people to take? How about the long-term effects? If legislators want to do their jobs, perhaps they could make sure that all existing Maine laws, rules, regulations, statutes and policies relating to this issue are adhered to and monitored – leaving the sanctions where they should be – not on the backs of people with mental illness.
Where would this country be without the great minds of the past: Abraham Lincoln, Tennessee Williams, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens, to name just a few individuals with mental illness?