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Letter: The mentally ill deserve a chance
First Published Aug 22 2014 04:12 pm • Last Updated Aug 22 2014 04:12 pm

As a registered nurse who works at a nonprofit substance abuse treatment center who employs integrative care, I agree with Mary Jo McMillen and Jamie Justice recommendations in "Get the nonviolent mentally ill out of our prisons" (Tribune, Aug. 16).

Clients are often admitted from jail or prison, where they have been thrown on medications as "treatment" for mental health and substance use issues. After a few months of individual, family, group and vocational therapy combined with treating medical issues, most are drastically more stable and able to return to work, take care of children, etc. They are no longer treating mental health issues or medical issues with illicit drugs. Given the chance, I’ve seen individuals make drastic changes in their lives. It is a beautiful process to watch and one that I wish more people could witness.

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Will treatment work for everyone? No. But success is more likely when access to long-term treatment is available, a stable environment and support system can be achieved, and individuals have access to manage ongoing medical and psychiatric needs. Instead of readmitting people to jail, admit them to inpatient or outpatient programs, where they can finally have a chance to do something different.

Shelly Guillory, RN, BSN

Salt Lake City

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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