Turning a blind eye to mental illness

How can state government cede its moral obligation to help the most vulnerable?

We were outraged to read that mental health funding was slashed by the Board of Public Works earlier this month in order to close a state budget gap ("Balancing Md.'s budget on the backs of the mentally ill," Jan. 21).

How can a state government cede its moral obligation in the face of such an overwhelming community need?

Mental illnesses, including drug addiction, are treatable diseases and often preventable. Treatment enables people to become and remain contributing members of their communities.

Most community treatment programs are run by nonprofit organizations that are continually asked to do more with less. The state's suicide rate is alarming, and the opiate overdose death rate has reached epidemic proportions.

Inadequate services for mentally ill children and adolescents continue to place extraordinary and expensive burdens on local hospital emergency rooms, school personnel and parents. What little system of care we have is spinning quickly out of control.

How can our state government turn a blind eye to the needs of those most vulnerable? They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family.

Craig Knoll, Frederick

Duchy Trachtenberg, Bethesda

Mr. Knoll served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1971 to1978. Ms. Trachtenberg served on the Montgomery County Council from 2006 to 2010.

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