Why do so many individuals with mental illness fill our emergency rooms, jails and hospital beds?

One of the reasons is that the state of Maine has restricted residential choices for them. Basically, adults with severe and persistent mental illness have two options. One is to live in a group home or similar institution and have access to the full spectrum of community-based supportive and rehabilitative services.

The other is to live in their own home or apartment and not have access to these services.

I do not call that a real choice. Different settings work for different people for various reasons. Those who do not live in an institutional setting do not receive the services that could be of benefit and are often on the streets or end up in institutions. These are far more costly to the taxpayer and to the health and well-being of that person with severe and persistent mental illness.

L.D. 87, “An Act to Improve Community Mental Health Treatment,” being considered by the Legislature, will give people an actual choice because they will be able to continue to live at home or another noninstitutional setting and have the same services as those who live in institutions.

Let’s do something to have a positive impact on the lives of those with mental illness. I urge others to join me and asking their legislators to support this bill. Everyone should be able to receive services wherever they live and not have to be institutionalized in order to do so.

Cindy Pooler

Chelsea

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