Letter: Agencies must co-operate to protect the mentally ill

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the main issues regarding community care is only touched on in your very informative article 'Care in the Community' (Inside Story, 10 January). That is, trying to get two departments, health and social services (to say nothing of housing), with fundamentally different philosophies about the mentally ill, to work together to provide services for people with severe mental illness. What works well for the frail elderly, for example, may not be appropriate for someone with schizophrenia.

Virginia Bottomley, the Health Secretary, suggested changes in the law to stop people 'falling through the net'. What is needed is a finer mesh net, and this will only come with adequate resources providing more and better services, and, above all, an understanding that people need specialised help and treatment along with social support. It must also be accepted that people can and should live in the community even though they are not 'cured'.

Jacqueline M Atkinson

University of Glasgow