Submitted by Erick Dietrich.
With over 800 beds that do not meet the demand for 2,500 patients, Western State Hospital is a place that is out for a rationale for its existence as a mental health institution.
I grew up in Lakewood, and my photographic memory of that large castle-like structure began from my seat on the school bus heading to my old high school. Why does our state need two old and dangerous mental health institutions that are already a relic of a time when mental health treatment was harsh and often disturbing.
While our governor continues to willingly ignore the mismanagement and precarious conditions both patients and staff face, the need for local and science-bound mental health treatment needs to start.
Besides being highly expensive and dangerous, Western State should morph into decentralized, community-based centers that operate under unique models of emphasizing treatment for patients, regardless of their condition or offenses.
In a word, mental health treatment should meet the needs of our community in a modern and humanized approach the state’s two antiquated facilities can never provide and never will.