Mental health care spotlighted during sentencing

Missourians who support community mental health centers and their programs hope last week’s arguments about Alyssa Bustamante’s mental health treatment won’t scare away others who need help.

Cindi Keele, executive director of Missouri’s chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ends many of her letters with the phrase “Until there is a cure.”

Community mental health centers play a major role in treating those with mental illnesses, she noted, even as researchers throughout the nation continue searching for causes and cures for a large range of illnesses that come under the “mental illness” umbrella.

The Missouri Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers was founded in 1979 to represent Missouri’s not-for-profit community mental health centers and the alcohol and drug abuse treatment agencies around the state.

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Until two years ago, Bustamante was one of those Missourians getting mental health treatment from a community agency.

Now she is in prison, sentenced last week to a life term for her guilty plea to second-degree murder for killing Elizabeth Olten, 9, on Oct. 21, 2009, plus 30 years for her guilty plea to armed criminal action, for using a knife during the murder.


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