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Guest Column

April 12, 2014

Not the 'most perfect village' for the mentally ill

(Continued)

While the public has been assured by Bassett that every possible effort was made to procure mental health practitioners, without any favorable results, it is the duty of not only those with mental illness who are well enough to advocate for themselves and their families and friends, and not only the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, but of the public, to ask if Bassett’s highest tier of management has involved itself as deeply and with as much commitment and creativity as it might have. If specialists in cardiology, oncology, endocrinology, gastroenterology or any of the other dozens of medical fields could be secured by Bassett, why is psychiatry the great exception? The public deserves a forthright explanation, supported by data.

It is true that we are living in times of reduction. But we need not live in times of diminishment. And in our lean and mean times, sayings by the likes of Gandhi rise into consciousness. The one that surfaces in my mind the midst of Bassett’s decision is, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its weakest members.”

As a person who has lived with a mood disorder for most of my life, I would take some umbrage at any implication that I, or any other person with a psychiatric condition, is weak. I know better than that. A more suitable word would be vulnerable. To see the world as it is and do one’s best to live a productive and meaningful life in it, without the strange gift, possessed by those without depression, of being able to overlook or avert one’s eyes and shield one’s heart from its dark aspects, is no mean feat. Yet that is what so many with mental illness do every day.

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