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Unintended consequences of releasing mental health records

Published: February 8, 2013

Regarding “Police say ‘visibly' mentally ill man bought guns” (News, Feb. 1): I didn't realize that “visibly” mentally ill, “obviously” mentally ill or “visibly unstable” are medically defined conditions that should cause any merchants to legally refuse to exercise a commercial transaction with that person. Many people “appear” to be two aces short of a full deck, but that's a subjective personal judgment. Even if others share my opinion, it's still subjective. Take Chris Matthews of MSNBC: Hundreds of people view his show every day and many would say he exhibits unstable tendencies. But this shouldn't result in a prohibition against him.

Should the state release mental health records to be used indiscriminately to determine the mental fitness of any individual by nonmedical personnel? The potential for abuse and the unintended consequences of that scenario boggle the mind! John Doe has a temporary bout of depression, sees his doctor and — Bingo! — he's a “certified” whacko! This is the Catch-22 conundrum that exists today.

The mayhem is committed by loners with a mental instability who have exhibited some anti-social behavior, but who weren't legally recognized as such in our current system. The national dialogue should be about how to legally and officially recognize, isolate, treat and restrict them from activities that may cause harm to themselves and/ or someone else. Call me crazy, but I don't believe we're doing that.

Peter J. Lepo, Edmond

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