I have spent more than 50 years in administering and advocating for health care, including three years planning for a comprehensive community health care system and as an area administrator for the Department of Mental Health in Massachusetts, five years as a CEO of a community mental health agency in Bellevue, Washington, and over 30 years as a CEO of community administration of combined home health, hospice, adult and children mental health services, group homes and foster care serving much of Maine, and since my retirement in 2009 advocating for those with serious brain disorders.

And then I got a real education.

My son was born with schizophrenia, not a “mental illness,” but a brain disorder. Chris had a very happy life until he was 20 years old when the evil flower of schizophrenia, as a result of body changes, bloomed into his head, tore his frontal lobes and destroyed his reality.

For 26 years we got a real education on really what these serious brain disorders are. Our society and, in fact, the world cruelly dismisses, makes fun of or saves or makes money on these disorders. Sadly, Congress at the federal level, including our Maine congressional delegation, has discriminated against these disorders by retaining the Institution for Mental Diseases Exclusion Law since 1965. Gov. Janet Mills has failed to support an IMD exclusion waiver for “mental illness.”

The recent column by Malory Shaughnessy and Betsy Sweet (“Maine must fund mental health care: An urgent call for action,” April 6) was good, but limited. Where is the reference for applying for a waiver program for “mental illness” (I hate that outdated term), to end in Maine the discriminatory IMD federal exclusion law where Maine, using 1.3 million state dollars, would get 10 million federal dollars for a host of inpatient and comprehensive services, including expanding assertive community treatment teams statewide to treat those with serious brain disorders.

Maine is not a leader; it lacks vision. The body is one from head to toe — an integrated, interactive and intertwined system as God has made us.

Joseph H. Pickering Jr., Bangor, chair of Truth Tear Down this Wall Committee

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