Brain disorders misunderstood

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This is in regard to the publicity surrounding Phillip Paul and his escape from Eastern State Hospital.

It is difficult to balance public safety and the needs of those who suffer with brain disorders. I agree that to foster fear of the mentally ill does nothing to aid in treatment and integration into society.

My concerns are not of the Phillip Pauls of the world. We know about them.

With proper education we as a society can keep watch over them and learn how to be cautious without panic. If a behavior seems out of balance, we would know the appropriate steps to take to ensure proper treatment is administered and everyone is kept safe.

I do that for a neighbor of mine who has no family willing to be involved with him. Though my knowledge of his disorders gives me reason to respect his illness and to be cautious, I do not fear him. When his behavior changes I know who to call to ensure he gets help.

When he is properly cared for by those trained to help him, he does well.

My concerns are about those afflicted with brain disorders that we do not know about. The ones who are not getting proper treatment because of the stigma still being fought over mental illness.

So many are afraid to ask for help, and so many families hide their loved ones who have brain disorders because of shame. Shame that we are taught by a culture that still doesn't understand. It is a shame that can be overcome, but we need proper education for that to happen.

We still live in a world where a mental illness diagnosis is seen as a label rather than a diagnosis of a disease, a step towards treatment, and an opportunity to overcome it and find a quality of life that can be sustained. This is sad.

We still have such a long way to go in the understanding and treatment of brain disorders and those who must cope with the symptoms and find a way to live a decent life, which is the basic right of all humanity. There are so many people out there who are far more dangerous, even deadly, than a person who has a brain disorder who is getting proper treatment.

Shauna Delay
Walla Walla

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