To the Editor:
Last year an incident occurred at the Muscatine County Jail that was investigated and reported on by the Des Moines Register. The incident involved a woman suffering from bi-polar disorder being subdued by jail officials using a stun gun.
As a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) volunteer, I was shocked to think of the victim’s mental and physical condition after the ordeal. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Muscatine Journal, carefully wording it to avoid criticism of anyone involved. My intention was to offer positive suggestions to avoid this kind of treatment in the future. My letter was published and later another local NAMI educator wrote a letter on the same topic that was also published in our local paper.
A member of our parish is serving on the County Board of Supervisors, and was willing to ask the board to consider hearing a presentation given about NAMI educational opportunities. The board responded by checking the online information about NAMI and inviting the NAMI state director to give a presentation which was locally televised. The conversation continues about the best way to deal with people suffering from mental illness in the prison system in our community and in the country.
I am grateful to the members of the Muscatine Board of Supervisors for their willingness to learn more about mental illness and the impact it has on those suffering from this disease, their families and our community. Sharing my experience of Catholic Social Teaching in action gives me great hope that positive steps will continue to be taken in the future to better understand mental illness.
To learn more about NAMI you can go to the website www.nami.org.