Better Help for the Mentally Ill

The New York Times, March 12, 2002

To the Editor:

"Beautiful Minds Can Be Reclaimed," by Courtenay M. Harding Courtenay (Op-Ed, March 10), offers hope and indicates the importance of early recognition of and treatment perseverance for those suffering from major mental illness. This group includes the 16 percent of the incarcerated who, according to Department of Justice statistics, suffer from major mental illness.

Both early recognition and long-term treatment are hampered by managed health care approaches that use a quick fix and compound the existing stigma that attends those suffering from major mental illness. These approaches limit benefits for those suffering from major mental illness far more than benefits are limited for those suffering from other life-threatening illnesses.

Cambridge, Mass., March 10, 2002

The writer is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.