Unfortunately, when mental illness is referenced in the media, it is usually in the context of the gun debate and focused on a rare and tragic occurrence of associated violence ["30 deadly minutes," News, Sept. 20].

This week is National Mental Illness Awareness Week and brings an opportunity to discuss the most overriding truths about mental illnesses: 1) They are common. In different forms, they affect 1 in 5 people at any one time, one in four in a lifetime, and one in three families; and 2) The vast majority of people who are affected by mental illness -- even in its most serious forms -- get better and experience recovery.

What is least recognized in health care and public policy circles is that, as with physical illness, early identification and intervention prevent more debilitating and tragic consequences. There are many prevention and early and rapid intervention programs that receive little or no funding as policy-makers debate whether these are essential parts of health care or instead the responsibility of government.

Mental Health First Aid, a public education program, trains first responders and teachers to ask proper questions and engage with mentally and emotionally wounded people to enable them to get help. Several bills stalled in Congress would provide critical funds for Mental Health First Aid.

Too frequently, we are reminded that tragic outcomes could have been different if, as a community, people were better able to recognize problems and intervene.

Michael Stoltz, Ronkonkoma

Editor's note: The writer is executive director of the nonprofit service agencies Clubhouse of Suffolk, Suffolk County United Veterans and the Mental Health Association of Suffolk County.

Cars must stop before white line

A recent article about drivers stopping past the white line at red-light intersections got me to thinking about how people on Long Island treat stop signs ["Avoid red-light tickets, stay behind white line," News, Sept. 29].

In New Jersey, where I grew up and began driving, we were taught to stop at the stop sign, with our front bumper behind the white line.

It seems that on Long Island people are taught not to stop until their rear tires have crossed the white line -- that is, if they even consider stopping at all.

William J. Van Sickle, Brentwood

I am dismayed that people don't know to stop before the white line. I would imagine this information must be in driver training handbooks. That a person has to stop behind the line is so obvious. Why else would there be white lines?

I see people screeching to a halt at stop signs, and blocking the crosswalk. Same thing with stopping before turning right on red. This behavior doesn't allow a pedestrian, who has a "walk" sign, to cross until the car moves.

I stop behind the white lines, and then I move up to look for safe passage. I have been hit from behind, beeped at, and yelled and cursed at. I joke that I will get a bumper sticker that says, "Danger! This driver stops at red lights and stop signs."

Jerry Schreibersdorf, Douglaston

Gov't intervention and climate change

Columnist Cathy Young is guilty of exactly the same fault for which she blames Al Gore, namely following a quasi-religion ["Fiery rhetoric inflames climate debate," Opinion, Oct. 1]. Her fault -- and this is true of all libertarians -- is thinking that only the free market can save us from all our problems, even those of a scientific nature.

That is why I take my cues on climate from neither her nor Gore.

Instead I listen to the National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society and the American Physical Society. They all say the same thing: Global warming is real, it is getting worse, man is the primary culprit, and the time to do something about it is getting late. Their statements are not based on politics, they are based on science.

Jim Finlay, Sayville

Small online classes promote learning

Marian Stoltz-Loike's recent opinion piece, "The smarter path for online education" [Opinion, Sept. 27], aptly describes the sound benefits of having smaller and better-focused classes during online study. The benefits far outweigh those of MOOCs -- massive open online courses -- in that a teacher can provide feedback to each student, resulting in far higher retention and interest in the subject.

As an online adjunct teacher at Stony Brook University, I am able to respond to each email and student inquiry with specific answers related to their questions. Students also have the benefit of working with their peers.

While MOOCs may offer interesting topics by world-class professors, they do little to advance learning.

Charles MacLeod, Northport

Don't pay for cameras in Brooklyn

The Sept. 23 news story "Extra sets of eyes," about the installation of 100 security cameras in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, should instead have been titled "Misuse of New York State taxpayer money"!

It seems Assemb. Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has put unwarranted pressure on and misrepresented the importance of this installation to the state. He is quoted as saying, "It's not that we have more crime than another community, but being that it's a Jewish area, there's probably at least the potential for more anti-Semitic acts."

This does not justify use of public taxpayer funds. This should only be funded privately.

Bob Franken, Kings Park


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