Mental health advocate featured in magazine

A Kitsap County mental health advocate has been honored for her support of her cause with a mention in Family Circle Magazine.

Pat Lovett of Silverdale, received the “Halo” award, and is pictured in the Jan. 18 issue of the magazine (currently on newsstands).

“I’m still in a bit of a shock,” Lovett said. “There are a lot of people who do a lot of good worked. I’m embarrassed. I’m happy. And I’m very honored.”

Lovett has been a tireless advocate for mental health causes for several decades.

Her connection to these causes is personal. She has two children who suffer from mental illness, although both successfully control their ailments through medication.

“The government is cutting our dollars,” she said. “After Jan. 1, Kitsap County Mental Health won’t be able to serve its patients. So our jails will become the hospitals for the mentally ill, because we will have nowhere to put them.

“To throw someone into a jail who has a mental illness is cruel,” she said. “This is an illness, like diabetes or heart disease.”

Lovett tells the story of her own aneurysm, when she was airlifted to Harborview Hospital and treated immediately. This contrasts with the plight of the mentally ill, as they are forced to wait for a bed and fight for treatment.

Appointed to the board of directors for Western State Hospital, Lovett has been active in quality review of patient services throughout the region, has investigated accusations of abuse at Western State and helped ensure appropriate actions were taken to protect the patients.

Her input affects the budgets and policies of mental health programs throughout the state of Washington.

Locally, she created a monthly support group called Community Voice, which facilitates discussion among families, patients and mental health workers to ensure quality care for patients. She said the three-way communications stream represents a unique treatment strategy.

Throughout, she is a strong advocate of medication.

“If the mentally ill can get on medication they can function,” she said. “And the new medications don’t have a lot of negative side effects. If someone is mentally ill their brain is not balanced. It’s like wires are loose. Medication helps to connect those wires.”

Lovett laments that in many cases a mentally ill person has to hurt themselves or hurt their neighbor in order to get attention.

If anyone suspects they or anyone near them are suffering from mental disease they can get a free screening from Kitsap Mental Health Services (360) 373-5031.

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