Friday, March 4, 2011

NAMI statements are misleading

A story in the Feb. 18 issue quoted National Alliance on Mental Illness spokesman Tom Hansen as saying, "If the mentally ill don't get services, they isolate and don't get reintegrated into society. That's not healthy for those who need social stimuli."

The above illustrates a basic ignorance about mental illness that persists in our country.

One, there is no generic "the" mentally ill; we are as diverse a demographic as "the" blacks, a once equally popular misrepresentation. This current "the" has been a theme of NAMI—it is a destructive theme.

Two, because illnesses do not discriminate on any basis, we are far more likely to be fully involved citizens. The concept of "reintegrating" "the" mentally ill is absurd.

Your article is not about "the" mentally ill, it is about helping those specific people whose illnesses have taken them out of society. They are a small, discrete and important group, but conflating all of us with them is wholly irresponsible.

Harold A. Maio

Ft. Myers, Fla.

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