Letter: Star Gazette should use a different word to address important issueThe editorial of October 18, 2012, "Mental Health in Hastings..." raises some interesting and concerning points.
To the editor,
The editorial of October 18, 2012, "Mental Health in Hastings..." raises some interesting and concerning points.
The effort to deal in a more public manner with the reality of mental health issues is commendable. For far too long mental issues have carried a sense of shame, taboo, and hiding. Professionals in the mental health field work with this reality and spend considerable effort to overcome these stigmas when working with clients.
Having counseled with a number of individuals in Hastings and in talking with others in town who do the same, there is no doubt a broad need to openly address the needs and resources for support to those struggling with a variety of mental health issues. The good news is that there are good resources available.
What is troubling in the editorial is the use of the word “fight” as it relates to action on mental illness. The piece suggests the community “fight against mental illness.” It is not clear what that fight might look like. Particularly when compared to the community fight against drugs. Are we to arrest for mental illness, prosecute and jail, or engage in other police actions? I hope this is not the thrust of using the term “fight.”
Those who are dealing with mental health issues, and those who care for them, do not need to feel as if the community in which they live is fighting them. Especially when there are good resources. In Hastings there are mental health professionals at the Allina clinic, there are at least three faith-based counselors, an out-patient substance abuse treatment program, a community grief/loss support group and several more resources. It is unlikely any see themselves “fighting” mental illness. They are all in place to help address issues and work with clients.
Mental illnesses are often complex and multi-faceted. The care in addressing them calls for compassion, understanding and cooperation. Treatment often calls on the client to “address” the issues going on in their lives. It is this term I suggest would be better in the paper's attempt to focus on an important issue in Hastings.
Editor’s note: The writer is a licensed professional counselor.
We think it is clear to anyone who read the editorial last week that we aren’t calling for the police to arrest those with mental illness in Hastings.
We did not imply in any way that Hastings residents should be fighting against those with mental illness.