This is in response to Phoebe Tollefson’s Oct. 15 article “‘All or nothing’ mental health care is filling the Montana state hospital, critics say.” The problem is that Warm Springs is not treating patients to their full ability and releases many of them after only a short stay, even though the involuntary commitment order is typically for up to 90 days.

In addition, the facilitators have, in the court order, the permission to force patients to take the medication to help them, but that doesn't always happen either. (Many mentally ill patients don't understand that the medication will help their brain illness, hence the court gets involved). Often the medications prescribed to help patients achieve "recovery" take weeks to actually take effect in the body; therefore, a longer stay is necessary to monitor them and to keep the patient on the medication.

Yes, my family has direct experience of this. Earlier this year, a loved one was released after only two weeks of the 90-days and this person was not impelled to take the prescribed medication. And so, we have to start over to help a loved one get treatment ... again. And we'll try as many times as it takes for Warm Springs to follow the court order. But the system shouldn’t have to be this way.

Patricia Madsen

Billings

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