As a mental health professional, I am compelled to speak out against the most recent attempts by the LePage administration to dismantle treatment and support services for people with mental illness.

Neither LePage nor his advisers are qualified to assess what people with mental illness need. This was clearly demonstrated by David Sorenson in his op-ed, “Changes to Section 17 will improve mental health care,” March 31. He wrote, “It is unnecessary to send a case worker to the home of somebody with moderate anxiety to walk them through the most basic functions of daily life.”

First of all, this is not the function of a case worker. Daily living skills workers perform this service.

Second, how do you define “moderate anxiety”? If someone has a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, it is because his or her disorder impacts daily functioning; there is nothing moderate about a disorder.

Third, not everyone with a disorder needs a case worker, but many people with anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder are so disabled that they cannot work, find housing or even begin to navigate the MaineCare bureaucracy to obtain food stamps. One of the main functions of a case worker is help people get back on their feet so they no longer need this service; case workers do not foster dependency, as Sorenson states.

I suggest that the governor find people with education and experience in mental health treatment to advise him, if he actually does care about providing effective, efficient treatment and services.

But given Paul LePage’s ongoing cowardly war on the poorest and most helpless of Maine citizens, that does not seem likely. It is up to the Legislature to again stand up for them.

If it does not, the hospitals, jails and graveyards will be overflowing.

Julie Hopkins


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