When will mental illness get the attention it deserves?

My father wrote this.  It was published by The Denver Post.  For those in doubt, yes, he’s talking about me.  He’s an amazing man.

Re: “Mental illness touches every American,” Dec. 24 guest commentary.

Dr. Marshall Thomas’ Christmas Eve commentary on the dismal state of mental illness treatment in the United States (and even worse in Colorado) was disheartening.

The awful truth is that mentally ill Coloradans are invisible. Where are the campaigns to help the mentally ill? What color is the little ribbon people wear to raise mental health awareness? When can I watch a huge holiday telethon to fund mental health research? When will our political leaders demand change?
Like most people, I’d never really thought about these questions until someone who suffers from mental illness asked me. She is a lady with very modest resources and her struggle to support herself while coping with her illness is heart-wrenching. Without visible symptoms or wounds, it is a never-ending challenge to get help. Her last emergency room visit began and ended with a suspicious “I’m not going to give you any drugs!” She doesn’t want drugs. She wants help.

Dr. Thomas noted that Colorado is last among all states in psychiatric bed capacity, 30th in mental health funding and, not surprisingly, has the eighth-highest suicide rate.

Surely the events in Aurora and Connecticut show how this problem affects all of us. Our governor has made a start by proposing additional funding, but much more needs to be done. Please help before another tragedy reminds us that our society has failed and continues to fail the mentally ill.

Ken HallLittleton

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