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Speaking out, Dec. 17 edition

Here's a piece I submitted to my local newspaper, challenging our area's congressman to find more money for mental health treatment programs:

Tuesday’s Times Herald contained an account of Congressman Tom Reed’s reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders. The story quotes him as saying killers in such instances are “lunatics,” and if increased federal spending on mental health services is required, it should come from money now being wasted in the federal budget.

The word “if” is not open for debate. The National Institute for Mental Health reports more than 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children are treated for their disorders in a given year.

Predictably and appropriately, the Sandy Hook massacre has ignited another national debate on the use and possession of firearms. However, Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News medical team, wrote Monday, “Too many guns isn’t the issue; too little mental health care is.”

Dr. Ablow continued, “There is no system in place—at all—that routes very sick mentally ill individuals, especially those at risk for violence, to forensic psychiatry professions truly skilled to evaluate them.”

It’s important to note Dr. Ablow isn’t saying all people with mental health disorders are dangerous. He is writing about “those among us who suffer with incapacitating symptoms of psychiatric illness and whose suffering can—only in a very, very small percentage of cases, thankfully—lead to terrible violence.”

An article by David Kopel in Monday’s Wall Street Journal echoes Dr. Ablow:

“In the mid-1960s, many of the killings would have been prevented because the severely mentally ill would have been confined and cared for in a state institution. But today, while government at most every level has bloated over the past half-century, mental-health treatment has been decimated. According to a study released in July by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the number of state hospital beds in America per capita has plummeted to 1850 levels, or 14.1 beds per 100,000 people.”

This is a national disgrace.

In light of this huge need, Congressman Reed (according to Tuesday’s story) thinks enough money for more mental health treatment programs can be squeezed from waste, fraud and abuse in the federal budget. All of our elected officials are accountable for tracking down this waste—including the congressman.

I challenge Congressman Reed to find the money. I challenge him to go after it with the same zeal he will show in supporting his vision of Second Amendment rights in the wake of Sandy Hook. Find the money, Congressman Reed, and when you find it, report back to your constituents on how it will be used.


Dec. 19th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Just getting started.

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