To the Editor:
Thank you to Jonathan Burke, Dr. Charles Silberstein, Hermine Hull, and others who have shared their stories and information about mental illness in The MV Times. Thank you to The MV Times for publishing these articles. Keep them coming.
Mentally ill persons struggle throughout their lives to live functionally, get the professional care they need, receive the care and support of relatives and friends, and for life itself. Only a few are able to achieve all these goals. They and their families often face heartbreaking challenges over and over again.
As members of this Island community, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Do I know enough to recognize mental illness? Do I provided compassionate support to mentally ill persons and their family members? Do I support an expansion of community services that would provide the care and treatment the mentally ill need: adequate counseling and psychiatric services, extensive training for the police, and a commitment by the police to avoid incarceration when possible, respite services for family members, fully trained mental health professionals in our schools, and intervention services for people in crisis? We need to make sure that we do not stigmatize mental illness, forcing ill persons and their families to bear their grief, fear, and exhaustion in private.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Martha’s Vineyard provides excellent free workshops for persons caring for mentally ill persons. The next will start in March. A support group is held the first Sunday of the month at 6 pm at the rear building (IWYC) at Community Services.