Please find below a letter from Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of the mental health charity SANE, which appeared in The Times (12/11/10) in response to comment by Alice Thomson entitled 'The mentally ill deserve a new kind of asylum'.
Alice Thomson’s fears are close to our heart (Opinion, Nov 10). Prison is not the place to treat people with mental illness, but where will they go?
While the government’s agenda and the impact of cuts mean that psychiatric beds and units are being closed by the day and housing budgets slashed, mentally ill prisoners can only swell the ranks of those already struggling with diminishing resources in the community.
What people with severe and enduring mental illness need is sanctuary at times of crisis, treatment and care in safe and civilised surroundings. Those requiring treatment should not be decanted into the community where they may face – as they did 25 years ago with the closure of the asylums – destitution, despair and nowhere to go.
Marjorie Wallace CBE