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Better funding, treatment needed for Md.'s mentally ill [Letter]

What is it going to take for society to realize that treating mental Illness is a serious issue that needs funding and major revamping in this state ("WMAR barricade suspect had been hospitalized for mental illness, mother says," May 14)?

I had the very uncomfortable task of requesting a petition for emergency evaluation for a person suffering mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse before a judge in the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County a few weeks ago. The judge, understanding the seriousness of the situation, granted the petition and expressed a verbal "good luck" to me with his order.

I understand why the judge wished me luck. After being admitted to Anne Arundel Medical Center for an emergency evaluation, the person suffering from mental illness was released within eight hours. And this person had been to this hospital twice within the last two months for the same illness.

I was shocked and appalled when I received the call from the hospital telling me of the release. My intention when requesting the order was to have the person placed in an intensive inpatient treatment program at Sheppard Pratt or similar facility for at least 45 days.

The Sun story about the WMAR barricade suspect reports that "doctors released him to an outpatient treatment program." Vladimir Mehul Baptiste clearly needed an inpatient treatment program, but doctors elected to release him.

The system is broken and desperately needs to be fixed before someone is really hurt or killed. This society and state must begin putting money, time and effort toward improving mental health care or these tragedies will continue to occur.

Colleen Kelly, Towson

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