Because of many recent incidents, mental illness has become equated with violence ["No dip in school shootings," News, Feb. 3]. But that perception isn't valid; the vast majority of people suffering from mental illnesses are not violent.
Rather than focusing on isolated events, the media and government agencies should investigate other issues that affect people with mental illnesses. Hospital programs and clinics are being downsized and closed. Appropriate, dignified housing opportunities are minimal. Realistic vocational and training programs for mentally ill adults are scarce.
Government agencies are not appropriately reinvesting funds from closed programs. People with mental illnesses need relevant and therapeutic social programs. They are often placed in prison for incidents that should not be called crimes; they are manifestations of the illnesses.
When will we realize that decent services are cost-effective and enable people with mental illnesses to be active, positive, worthwhile employees and community members? Chronic illnesses should be treated, not stigmatized.
David J. Sills, Oceanside
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the board of directors of the Queens-Nassau chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.