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Letter: The homeless should have access to mental health assistance

Deseret News - 1/28/2019

Point in time is exactly that: one singular point in time.

Although I see the benefit to this counting of the homeless individuals, I also hope that policymakers can see how harmful it can also be. It shows a number of homeless individuals. However, does it really show why they would rather sleep in the freezing cold compared to shelter?

We need more mental health availability for these individuals. They self-medicate with drugs because they do not have the resources or support offered to them to receive mental health assistance. Homeless shelters do the best that they can, but even they do not have capacity for the kind of assistance that their clients need.

Case managers work hard to make sure clients are housed, fed and clothed. But at the end of the day, there needs to be more mental health management: taking clients to mandated therapy and making sure that clients have access to the proper medication they need.

Policymakers, please remember this. Take this count — this one moment in time —and look at the foundation of the issue. What is happening to these individuals who prefer the streets, who prefer to be up all night and sleep in the "safety" of the day?

McKinley Merchant

Salt Lake City

CREDIT: McKinley Merchant