Letter: Mentally ill deserve better care

Michelle Theriault Boots’ excellent news story in the Sunday paper is a flashing beacon. We must do something to provide treatment and safe harbor for the mentally ill. 

Our society is mistaken in being focused on the idea of that the mentally ill should be treated like everyone else in protecting individual freedom. In principle, the protection of individual freedom is fine. But the principle is misapplied to the mentally ill because it is based on the assumption that the individual is “normal.” 

Those who are mentally ill are not “normal” and are not free but are enchained in their mental illness. The mentally ill must be accommodated differently, otherwise they bring harm onto themselves and to others. Mark Bolus’ story indeed indicates that society failed him. 

We don’t need more jails; we need psychiatric hospitals that can accommodate patients for longer periods of time in which a program of treatment can be developed and administered by trained professionals. A few days, let alone one day, in a psychiatric hospital does absolutely nothing to provide needed treatment. 

Combining jails with the mentally ill demonstrates a ruthless lack of care about a segment of society that is vulnerable and dangerous. How long is it going to take for us to learn? In the name of protecting individual freedom, we have reverted to a Middle Ages approach to dealing with the mentally ill. The Alaska Psychiatric Hospital needs to be expanded and funded to take care of the mentally ill. 

— Carol Eaton



Anchorage Daily News