Can we talk about mental health now?

Lucy Steigerwald at Reason suggests the Aurora shooting might be our opportunity to talk about mental health in America. She writes:

Maybe the problem isn’t Hollywood, a lack of Christian ethics, guns, Occupy Wall Street, nerds, or the Tea Party. Maybe the problem is crazy people sometimes shoot other people. And maybe what is most surprising is how little people have been pushing the familiar narrative that a better, perhaps more coercive mental health system could have prevented tragedies like the July 20 shooting that killed 12 people who just wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises.

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4 Comments

  1. YES! Let’s talk, and then take action. There needs to be better screening and outreach. And, let’s not forget to include homeless people and people who are isolated, without support from family/friends, in treatment plans.

  2. There’s a lot of assumptions in that article. Making it easier to institutionalize people who some consider “crazy” is not the only answer. (Remember…women…until not so long ago…were easy targets for institutional settings when they refused to conform to the roles “society”…spelled m-e-n…had defined for them.)
    “Deinstitutionalization” is a serious problem. But we have no real indication that’s connected to the shootings in Aurora. Warehousing folks who need psychiatric treatment in prisons is another serious problem, especially since the advent of the for-profit prison industry. But again…aren’t we getting off the track a little?
    Not everybody who suffers with mental illness belongs in an institution. There are so many variables that, when combined, can cause people to “snap” and do something to hurt themselves or others. Making simple judgments, easy judgments, feelgood judgments, isn’t going to solve anything. Pathology is complicated, especially in an area we really know very little about.

    Beginning a conversation on this subject is necessary, but let’s be careful not to overreact. A simple accusation in this country can seriously affect one’s life…the ability to get a job…credit…insurance…friends.
    We’re going to need to change how we think about mental health and illness, how we think about healthcare, if we really want to have in place a system were people can feel safe and secure seeking help.
    Looking at mental health and thinking “threat” isn’t a good place to start.
    Single Payer…universal healthcare…is. But that’s still only just a start.

    1. We do need to change the way we think about mental illness. I don’t agree with everything in the article, but I do feel we do a poor job of educating people about what to do to help someone who needs mental illness treatment. There should be a common level of knowledge on the subject so that when a red flag goes up, people help rather than walk away. Of course, if you move upstream from that, people should also help and not walk away if they suspect a kid is being abused at home or at school. Schools and colleges should be a lot better at identifying & reacting to abuse, bulling, and mental illness. They should be a partner in supporting & providing treatment. It affects ability to learn and the earlier issues are addressed, the better.

  3. Yes, better mental health care but let’s not forget how easy it is for ANYONE to buy the weapons to do these horrid things. We can’t always guard against those who snap, or give in to the voices but we need to make it harder for them to amass arsenals.

    We need to listen to each other, pay attention to the person who works near us or is our neighbor. Are they ok do they need help? How could you help?

    This has haunted me for the week.

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