Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Aloha State Wake Up Call

A string of recent tragedies in Hawaii has put mental illness high on the list of state concerns. The most prominent was high-tech millionaire Steven Thomas who disappeared from his home and later hung himself.

Thomas had bipolar disorder and all the financial resources necessary to get help. Unfortunately, like many people with the illness, he didn’t realize how sick he was. His wife did, but she couldn’t get him the help fast enough.

State officials are looking at the recent tragedies as a wake up call, holding hearings at the State Capitol to help figure out how to keep people from falling through the cracks. They are to be commended.

The state would be wise to listen to family members, like Thomas’ wife, who saw the warning signs and could almost foresee tragedy in the making. Providing assisted outpatient treatment will help give options to family members and other loved ones. Resources are important, and certainly Hawaii, like many states should examine ways to allocate more to improving mental health. Resources, however, as the case of Thomas illustrates, aren’t the only barriers to care.

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