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Letters to the Editor: They tried to get mentally ill loved ones help. The system is broken

Sarah Dusseault in front of the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles
Sarah Dusseault in front of the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles, where her brother John Maurer was being held.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your article on Sarah Dusseault’s brother John Samuel Maurer was heart- wrenching. I have had a similar experience with my brother Bill, who is mentally disabled.

Over the past 30-plus years, I have unsuccessfully worked to get him housing and our father’s Social Security benefits. Like Dusseault and her siblings, I keep hitting dead ends trying to get help. To watch someone you love, who excelled as a child, decay year by year is torturous.

Recently I saw a news segment on one-hour tours to view gorillas in Rwanda that go for $1,500. The money accumulated from these excursions has helped locals build schools and housing, among other necessities.

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It struck me that if we could think of some attraction that would motivate wealthy individuals to pay $1,500 toward caring for homeless people, we could possibly provide more housing for needy individuals. While the gorillas in Rwanda are well taken care of and thriving, the unhoused in the United States are more often than not left to fend for themselves.

Julie Fox, Los Angeles

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To the editor: As the former executive director of a mental health advocacy nonprofit and now leading a homeless coalition in Hollywood, I witness this story more than a hundred times a year.

The reason we push early intervention and treatment for mental health conditions is because the brain deteriorates faster and more permanently the longer a mental illness goes untreated on the street, in jail or even in caregiving settings — further exacerbating the human and financial toll.

Let’s get it together and apply resources and innovations that adequately appreciate the earthquake in humanity that this is. In the era of data-driven decision-making, let’s get to the bottom of how many or which kinds of beds, and where. Let’s fill the gaps, starting now.

Our county would be stunned to see that people struggling with mental illness can live vibrant lives if they have access to real care.

Brittney Weissman, Pasadena

The writer is executive director of Hollywood 4WRD.

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To the editor: I have a son who suffers with bipolar, schizoaffective and mood disorders. He was doing well for almost seven years on his medication before he had to go off it because of a medical issue.

Getting my son back on a medication has been a year-long struggle. He was asked to leave home because of his behavior. He had three hospitalizations and wound up in jail charged with multiple felonies.

Despite money being provided for housing, I honestly feel that our lawmakers do not want to take a long, concerted look at these issues and work toward solutions.

Something that would help is to provide more funding for board-and-care facilities. More of these supported living arrangements need to be made available to go along with counseling and case management.

Every time I read one of these articles, I think about my son and the lack of solutions.

Jamie Harvey, Ventura


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