The Feb. 9 letter by Kendra Stewart, board chair of the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center, raises a number of issues that warrant response. In it she notes that “science has shown that only genetics, chemical imbalances and trauma can cause mental illness.”

Science, as derived from well thought out double-blind study, has shown rather convincingly that it is both clinically and financially prudent to pay for and apply family therapy, occupational therapy and education to the treatment of children in the midst of a serious mental illness.

Of course the brain is involved in mental illness, but many ways of intervening in the pathways of the brain involve interpersonal and other therapies that do not rely on chemistry to help the person in need.

In regard to her statement that “politics cannot cause a mental illness,” I suggest that politics can sure make things worse.

That is exactly what has happened across the United States in the past 20 years and in South Carolina in particular as we closed hospitals in Columbia, withdrew funds to treat the chronically mentally ill and incarcerated the mentally ill.

Political decisions impacted the lives of thousands of South Carolinians suffering from mental illness by setting up roadblocks to access the care they needed.

Edgar J. Weiss, M.D.

Gamecock Avenue