SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 22, 2013

Watson: Focus on mental health needed

(Continued)

We should increase the system’s capacity generally to see and help the mentally ill. Experts say that community-based and school-based programs should be multiplied.

Perhaps we should consider building more residential care and treatment facilities for psychiatric patients. Decades ago, when we deinstitutionalized mental patients, we left a hole in the system. New facilities, without the abuses of the past, could be part of new reforms.

There are many more improvements we can make to both the care system and to mental health itself. Some despondency, alienation, anger and violence can be a product partly of our coarse and careless culture. Our mental health, sanity and levels of experienced trauma are not unrelated to the conditions and features of our society.

So, to the extent that we can have fewer wars, destroy less natural habitat and environment, be less materialistic and more connected to each other, and be generally more responsible and ethical, we will reap benefits — slowly, over generations — in the quality of our society and thus the quality of our emotional lives.

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Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at watson@nii.net.

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