'Help for the Mentally Ill'

I am responding to your editorial as a psychologist bending my efforts for more than 30 years in treating those human beings diagnosed as having schizophrenia. I am delighted that these very needful people are begining to be recognized as human beings that can be dealt with not only with more humane methods but also in a manner that will restore their dignity and help many return to a productive life.

These homeless are a tragic representation of the apathy that has been fostered by a professional world that has turned its back on these people and by a lay public that has suffered from massive misinformation about what in fact mental illness is.

As you point out, the rationale for deinstitutionalization is a sound one, but in my opinion it is because our state hospitals have represented no more that omnipotent shrines that have never done much more than warehouse the people they were supposed to treat. Further, most of the professionals treating this illness still do not take into account that the people they are treating have enough health in them to improve, providing that their treatment gives some regard to the dignity of the patient's human potential, and the idea that people with hope can make positive changes no matter how severe their presumed limitations.

Research is certainly extremely important to find ways of treating people more effectively. Research, however, without good treatment centers and rehabilitation efforts really doesn't make much sense at all. You referred to the fact that in the Los Angeles area there are exemplary programs and ". . . useful examples of the kinds of services that can meet this need." I could not agree more.

I am treatment director of the Anne Sippi Clinic, which is a 32-bed residential treatment center designed to treat and rehabilitate those people who are mentally ill. It would be my hope that The Times would take more than editorial notice of existing facilities such as ours, which might already represent a prototype to at least partially relieve this epidemic problem that sweeps our country.


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