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Funding NIH behavioral research is a waste of money

CultureNational Institutes of HealthBarack Obama

Regarding Sandra Hofferth's recent column on funding for the National Institutes of Health, I agree that "closing the longevity gap depends on behavioral and social science research" ("Budget cuts and the politics of research," July 15).

However, Ms. Hofferth is merely talking about the longevity gap, whereas I am living in it, and I believe people like her and the researchers at NIH are the source of the problem rather than the solution.

As a taxpayer and a mentally ill individual, I cannot support her requests for additional funding for "behavioral and social sciences." It is simply a waste of money and it saps valuable resources out of the economy into programs that falsely raise peoples' hopes and foment an elitist class of academics who exploit human misery for financial gain without directly taking responsibility for delivery of real-world solutions.

My mental and emotional "deficiencies" trace back to early and prolonged bullying and abuse in childhood — I lost my job, my home and most of my life savings. For a long time, I believed that somehow, with the assistance of the mental health profession, I might recover and resume the happy, middle-class life style to which I had been accustomed.

But I no longer believe that will happen because the gap between the real world and the world of NIMH researchers and staff is too wide, and there is a quality control crisis in public mental health, not a funding crisis as many would like us to believe.

I sat down and wrote a description of my own experiences and the breakdown in the role of the mental health profession, and I submitted it to NIMH after President Barack Obama called for a national conversation on mental health in June.

Someone needs to tell President Obama that it is a one way conversation — I talk and the National Institute of Mental Health ignores me — kind of like a session with a psychiatrist at a community mental health center.

Does the president want a "national conversation?" I say the time is now and the place is here.

Sam Mela, Gainesville, Ga.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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