Sheila Osborn is assistant director, NAMI Greater Kansas City
To the editor:
The story about the 17-year-old chained to a pole in the basement was shocking to all who watched and read about it. Unfortunately, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Kansas City see and hear about these sad situations frequently. Our most vulnerable and innocent pay the price for a severely underfunded and complicated mental-health system. Ignorance and frustration lead to a lack of empathy, propelling society to punish individuals coping with numerous biologically based brain disorders. Our brains are organs too! Every tragic case needs to be a reminder that we are failing our most vulnerable citizens, and in this case our children.
NAMI was born out of the need from families with a mentally ill member in need of services and support. Let’s not sensationalize these tragedies but rather cradle them with urgency for a change in attitude and awareness.
Here at NAMI Greater Kansas City, we have a specialized care coordination program (funded by the Reach Healthcare Foundation) for the public to obtain help for themselves and their loved ones. It’s a gap measure created to catch and help the mental health system serve the most vulnerable. NAMI-KC and every other NAMI affiliate offers free NAMI core programs such as Family-to-Family and In Our Own Voice to educate the mentally ill, their families and the public on mental health issues (funded by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the Jackson County Mental Health Fund).
If you have a mental illness, are a family member, a co-worker or know someone in need of help, call NAMI-KC at 816-931-0030 or visit www.namikc.org. All programs offered through NAMI-KC are free to the public.