Here we are again in 2012 with a massacre of innocent Americans at the hands of a highly troubled young adult. I think increased gun control is obligatory at this point, however the need for increased mental health care resources is of paramount importance. The privatization of mental health in this country has created an environment in which many are unable to get the highly sophisticated care that is needed. It is painful to watch the news and hear 95% of the conversation focused on gun control. More painful is that our country continues to glaze over the underlying mental health issues afflicting our country. Sadly the only groups with the ability to receive quality mental health care are those on Medicaid and those who can afford to pay privately.
It is time for our country to step up and focus on making mental health care options available to the general public. Why our government reorganized mental health care back in the seventies is beyond me however it is time to make a change. There would be less violence in the United States if more citizens had access to the appropriate treatment. Our government spends a great deal of taxpayer funds on numerous programs to help individuals. Why haven’t funds been devoted heavily to mental healthcare programs? How many more violent attacks will occur before changes to the system are made? My guess is that the administration will make some progress on increased gun control and ignore the need for better access to mental health treatment.
Our current health care system is discriminatory toward mental health issues and insurance plans are not generally mandated to cover mental health treatment. What we need is parity. Mental health illness should be given the same attention as physical ailments. We must ensure that individuals have access to community treatment and support. It is time to stop brushing mental health issues aside.
In our schools we need to establish early intervention and identification through school-linked mental-health services. While these services will surely require funding it would make a real difference. We cannot simply let individuals continue to fall through the cracks. We need to have systems in place for identifying underlying issues and provide greater access toward getting help.
Every time there is mass shooting there is a discussion about making changes. When is our country going to stop talking and act? We owe it to the victims of these brazen atrocities to make change. May the 26 victims in Newtown rest in peace.