Helping mentally ill needs to be addressed

Montrose resident agrees more needs to be done for local vulnerable persons in our communities.

I am writing in response to the article “Businesses asking City for help dealing with society’s vulnerable” (Trail Times, Aug. 28) and also the letter published in the “Letters to the Editor” section published on Sept 1 (More help needed for mentally ill).

I can wholeheartedly agree with Holly Wilson’s letter stating that we have severe lack of provisions for the mentally ill in our community. Make no mistake – there is an issue here that needs to be addressed.

I do not speak from any experience with working directly with the mentally ill but I can speak from my experiences working downtown for many years. I love my community and know that it is a relatively safe community in comparison to others. We are a welcoming and lovely community that care for others and cares for the vulnerable. I have never heard people around me talking with disdain about any of these people but instead with concern.

On the topic of safety, Holly said she has only felt unsafe once. I respectfully disagree, I have to say that there have been numerous times I have not felt safe.

I have noticed a big change in the last five years with the amount of homeless and mentally ill people that have moved into our community. It is understandable and to be expected as KBRH is where they would get their treatment. However, I did not anticipate that I would have some very unpleasant encounters with these same people. I have been followed to my car more than once and had inappropriate comments thrown in my direction. I can’t repeat them in this letter.

My daughter had to deal with a man staring at her for hours at her place of work (who is known to be mentally ill). This same man has had violent encounters in the past. He is also the same man who would “wait” for the women to leave a local business that I worked at and then follow them to their cars.

I have called the police and they are extremely helpful but what else is being done for these people? There are many people that I see “showing up” downtown that I have never seen before. I would definitely say they are “vulnerable” and I hope there is a full spectrum of services available to them. I want them to be active and healthy participants in this community.

We need to ask (as Holly said), “What are we actively doing as a community to ensure their care and safety and thereby ensuring a whole community?”

I would expect that the wonderful staff at the hospital are doing their fair share but what else can be done to help?

I hope we all continue to have dialogue on this topic and I do believe that the leaders at City Hall will diligently strive to get on top of this important issue.

Christine Goertzen

Montrose