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November 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Mother optimistic about son's mental-health treatment

Failing mental-health system

Thank you to Diana Hefley for “Mother hopes mentally ill son finally gets help” [, Nov. 4]. The story, based on Suzanne Lankford's experiences with her son, is just one example of Washington's mental-health system failing to meet the greater needs of individuals with mental illness.

Lankford described the multiple frustrations associated with her son's mental illness: court hearings, jail time, and revolving mental-health hospitalizations. As a social-work intern who works in mental health, I can empathize with her feelings of frustration toward such a fragmented system and know that Lankford’s case is not an anomaly.

Within our mental-health system, there are not many options between the extremes of voluntary outpatient treatment and involuntary hospitalization. But where does someone go who has much greater needs than outpatient treatment yet does not quite qualify for hospitalization? The system leaves individuals, like Joshua, lost without more supportive treatment and options.

Through this story, The Times shed light upon our broken mental-health system and provided a personalized story to invoke change. I appreciate this work in addressing the treatment needs of many individuals with mental illness and the needs of their family members that are often unknown to the general public.

— Jessa Kerston, Seattle

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