Readers respond to the February 24 issue

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November dreams

So our brain dead supervisors want to increase our taxes [“Will proposed county tax hike ruffle city-county relations?” Government News, February 24]. I presume they can’t read, since they apparently do not know that the country is going through its worse recession since the Great Depression. Have they been to school? Oh, and some pundits say we are already in a depression. But, no, our supervisors are so much in love with spending our money, they want more, more, more. (I read recently how the obscene increase in our budget far outraces the growth in population.)

To be constructive, as opposed to just mad as hell, here are two proposals. Change the growth in budget so that it reflects the growth in the population. Second, outsource all activities since competition tends to lower prices but not services. Of course, if the supervisors can’t read, I guess these proposals are toast. A change in the Board, anyone? When are the next elections?
 
Derek Oppen
Albemarle County

Don’t blame the victim

I am writing in response to the cover story, “Under Threat” [February 24].  I appreciate your attention to the important issue of ensuring adequate mental health treatment resources for Virginia’s children and adolescents. To meet these needs, a spectrum of treatment options should be available, including community-based treatment and acute inpatient hospitalization. However, I was profoundly disturbed by the irresponsible and inflammatory language used to portray the children and adolescents in need of such treatment. The author’s descriptions of people with mental illness as “the off-kilter minds of Virginia’s most disturbed children” and “kids who are so messed up in the head”  and “deranged kids,” only serve to reinforce existing pervasive negative stereotypes. In addition, the article’s repeated focus on violent themes is misleading and unbalanced. The general public continues to link mental illness to violence, with little understanding of the true picture. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and the vast majority of violent acts are perpetrated by people without mental illness. In fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime than to be perpetrators. This fear mongering is irresponsible. Inaccurate stereotyping of people with mental illness strengthens stigma and fear. Societal discrimination against the mentally ill is actually largely responsible for the chronic underfunding of the U.S. mental health system, leading to woefully inadequate treatment resources. It is vital that the media work to create an accurate portrayal of mental illness and its treatment in order to correct public misperceptions and build the support needed to appropriately care for these children and their communities.
 
Lillian Mezey
Albemarle County

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