On behalf of hundreds of Howard County residents whose lives have been turned upside down because of mental illness, thank you for giving so much attention to some of the challenges they and their caregivers face. Affordable housing with and without support services, residential rehabilitation programs and both acute and long-term psychiatric hospitalization units are essential to helping people with serious brain disorders recover from a psychiatric crisis and regain their lives.
Kevin Rector should be commended for his thorough investigation of a topic that gets little or no attention because of misconceptions that people have about mental illnesses. People who live with serious chronic mental illness need support and companionship to fight their disease.
Treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective. Between 70 percent and 90 percent of people have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of medication, therapy and support. Unfortunately, in many affluent communities, including Howard County, housing becomes an overwhelming obstacle to maintaining treatment plans after release from a psychiatric hospital.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) applauds Mr. Rector and Patuxent Publishing for addressing this area of critical need.
Susan Helsel is executive director of NAMI Howard County.