Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"No parent should reach the point we did ..."

Reaction to the Wall Street Journal article continues to pour in, including this passionate letter from Minnesota Rep. Mindy Greiling …


Assisted treatment laws are vital for people so ill with diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that they cannot make informed treatment decisions. Minnesota passed a strong law in 2001 not because of a tragic headline ("A Doctor's Fight," Feb 2.), but because many families were seeking earlier intervention for loved ones who did not recognize their illness.

Our law was not a reaction to tragedy, but a reaction to research. Experts from the University of Minnesota and others showed us that without early intervention and treatment, patients do much worse over time. The Treatment Advocacy Center's expertise helped us ensure that our law could both help the people who needed it most and include judicial and procedural safeguards to prevent abuse. That year we also passed the Mental Health Act, which greatly improved our mental health system to lessen the need for deterioration in the first place.

I speak as a legislator and a mother. No parent should reach the point we did, almost wishing for the crisis that would allow our son to get the treatment he so obviously needed, but was too sick to appreciate that he did. Our family's painful experience gave us firsthand knowledge of the peril of weak laws that require someone to be dangerous before society can intervene.

Minnesota State Representative Mindy Greiling