Central Ohio

Tragedy can start discussions of funding mental illness care

To the Editor:

The board of Melissa's House and Melissa's House Institute is heartbroken and shocked by the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims and to all whose lives have been forever changed as a result of this horrific act.

To commemorate the victims, we will be planting 27 trees around Melissa's House to serve as a living memorial to each of the children and adults who lost their lives.

As authorities continue to explore the motive behind the violence, it is important to note that presently there is no clear indication that mental illness was a factor, and we believe no one should speculate or jump to conclusions.

The mission behind Melissa's House Institute is to improve the public's understanding of mental illness through education and advocacy.

In the wake of such a tragedy, it is equally important to keep in mind that the impact of mental illness on the total level of overall violence in our society is exceptionally small. Certainly, the issues that resulted in the tragedy are complex, and we as a nation need to explore them together to determine the steps that can be taken to prevent yet another massacre.

This tragedy has brought to the forefront the importance of taking care of those with mental illness.

Yet, between 2009 and 2011 states cumulatively cut more than $1.8 billion from their budgets for services for children and adults living with mental illness.

As we explore where we go from here, it is our hope that such cuts in services for the mentally ill and those who support them be part of the discussion. Melissa's House is committed to ensuring they are.

May the memories of those who tragically died in Connecticut be a blessing to all who knew them.

Elaine Goldberg, Founder of Melissa's House
Melissa's House Board