Government could save money while helping mentally ill people.

Erie County is home to an estimated 3,600 adults with severe mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, who are untreated in any given 12-month period. Most of these individuals experience symptoms that are easily managed and have little direct impact on the community. A certain subset of those with SMI, however, suffer symptoms that trap them in a revolving door of repeat hospitalizations, incarcerations or worse. Roughly half of these individuals with extreme symptoms have a co-existing condition known as anosognosia that prevents them from recognizing they are ill. Virtually all of them have a history of not adhering to prescribed treatment.


As the Erie Times-News March 9 editorial noted, Pennsylvania’s assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law was created as a pathway to recovery for individuals from this subpopulation and as a safeguard for their families and communities. Despite this fact, not a single county in Pennsylvania has implemented AOT since the law passed in October 2018. While county leaders wring their hands and come up with excuses, the state misses out on a chance to save lives and money.


Multiple studies have reported that AOT produces substantial benefits for individuals at risk of cycling through expensive public services because they are unable to stay in treatment. Rates of homelessness, arrest, incarceration, suicide and victimization all are reduced for people who receive AOT – even after they leave the program and resume directing their own treatment.


Communities benefit, too. The Department of Justice has deemed AOT an evidence-based practice that reduces crime and violence. None of these results – nor the pleas of families desperate to keep loved ones and the community safe – have yet succeeded in moving Erie County to implement AOT.


The Pennsylvania Legislature opened a pathway to a better life for these individuals by enacting assisted outpatient treatment. The Editorial Board is right – it’s time for local leaders to take down the barriers that prevent them from using it. Everyone will benefit.


– Betsy Thompson, policy adviser, Treatment Advocacy Center


Trump misleads public


during daily briefings


Is anyone else sick to death of the daily press briefings with President Donald J. Trump standing there lying profusely? I mean the entire country is under a lockdown and there he stands daily, shoulder to shoulder spouting lies about how great he is and that he doesn't assume any responsibility for what's happening to this country.


Well, I say that when the World Health Organization offered to provide testing kits and Trump said, “No thank you, we'll make them here in America,” that was Trump's blunder and totally on him! My guess is that he wanted a company that he owned to make the kits so that he could get a piece of the action. Also, Trump doesn't want Americans to get tested because he doesn't want the numbers going up. Remember the cruise ship debacle?


It's always all about Trump. And these daily briefings are not out of concern for the American people, they are so he can get his face in front of the cameras every day. It's free advertising during an election year, something the Democrats aren't getting. And keep in mind that Trump has a recorded number of more than 17,000 lies to his credit, so what he says at these briefings can't be taken too seriously, especially when he gives himself a grade of 10 for handling of the coronavirus. That's what it's called, not "Chinese virus" as our white nationalist leader would have you believe.


For now I am self-isolating and praying for those who have to work in hospitals, and checking in by phone with family and friends. Nov. 3 can't come soon enough suit me, and we all have to vote to replace this despicable human being from office.


– Mary Wier, Harborcreek


Pastors listen to Trump


on peaceable assembly


The pastors of the 501(C)(3) Christian churches in Erie County should all be acknowledged and commended in these trying times.


The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states in part "Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people to peaceably assemble.”


These pastors have decided to take their marching orders from the president rather than from God. They have made the practical decision to concentrate on the "here and now" rather than the "hereafter.” None of these pastors wants more than 10 people to peaceably assemble. Of course, there will undoubtedly be some rabble-rousers who assemble in their private homes to practice their religion as there are in other countries. Those people need to be rooted out.


As President Donald Trump has said, "These are times that try men's souls.”


– Harry Bierley, Erie