Connecticut shootings shed light on lack of focus on mental healthcare

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Updated: 12/19/2012 5:31 am
The Sandy Hook shootings have sparked serious discussion about what inspires people like Adam Lanza, responsible for the massacre, or James Holmes, who shot and killed in a Colorado movie theater, to do what they do.

"What we do know is that the prevalence of serious mental illness is really under reported."

Guns are taking fire in Congress and among gun control advocates. Gun enthusiasts say the problem begins long before guns are involved, and they have evidence from experts to back them up.

"Twenty percent of kids, by the time they are 18 years old, will have experienced a severe, emotional disturbance, and that's really really high," Beth Lawson, with StarCare, formerly MHMR, said. "What we know is that most children have an emotional issue secondary to trauma. Trauma is a big precipitating factor for severe emotional disturbance."

Lawson said the stigma behind mental health makes it difficult to even address the issue.

"A lot of times, people believe that mental health issues or mental health diseases, are a disease of choice, or a disease of laziness, or a disease of, 'I just don't care enough to take care of myself'" Lawson said. "What we do know is that a person cannot control serious mental illness any easier than they could control their blood sugar."

She said mental illness isn't going away, and its cost to society continues to grow.

"The number one and number two places that people present because of a lack of mental health services are one, in the jail, and two, in an emergency room," Lawson said.

"The numbers, unfortunately, are quickly getting towards fifty percent of the inmate population out there."

County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said they are housing more than 400 inmates with varying states of mental illness.

"The core fact of the matter is, is that, the reduction from say the fifties and sixties and the number of mental health beds that were available, or were open in the United States, that number has dropped dramatically," Rowe said, "and the jails, and prisons, have, in some cases, become the de facto of mental health institutions."

He said great strides have been made lately towards identifying mental illness in people, and getting them the help they need. He is planning a trip to Austin to ask for better resources for treatment.
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Liberty Seeker - 12/19/2012 10:21 AM
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Before we can impose treatment, we MUST first have official certifications of specific mental illness. If 20 percent of school kids had already been diagnosed with a severe mental disturbance, would it be prudent to force medication down the throats of at least 20 percent of the school population. That sounds like a drug epidemic to me. What about the 80 percent that had not been formally diagnosed with any specific severe mental illness? If Adam was not formally diagnosed, there was nothing any doctor or administrator could have done to prevent the shooting. Psychologists do not get sufficient feedback from dead people to render a valid evaluation. The deceased bodies are usually considered as unresponsive and remote, that show no feelings for anyone or anything. Most politicians would also have the same diagnosis. Should such politicians be force medicated as well?
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