Re: “How Manuel Ellis slipped through the cracks of the mental health system” [Sept. 22, Times Watchdog]:

While there is no doubt that there is a need for a more robust crisis-response system and enhanced inpatient capacity, it is also true that attention and resources must be given to our outpatient-care system.

Investment in proven outpatient services prevent crises, reduce encounters with law enforcement and the courts, divert people from inpatient care and help people move into their own lives. Such services can serve more people with behavioral-health challenges at a fraction of the cost of inpatient care. This is a win-win for good use of our tax dollars and people living with behavioral-health challenges.

Research is increasingly verifying that evidence-based practices such as assertive community treatment, supported employment/education, supported housing, clubhouse model psychiatric rehabilitation programs and a number of psychotherapies, among other services, generate the above outcomes consistently. These are deserving of our attention and funding and will go a long way to reducing the type of tragedies that led to the death of Manuel Ellis.

Treatment works, but only if you get it. Let’s help more people get the right treatment and services.

Jonathan R. Beard, LICSW, Seattle, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington