As the conversations continue regarding Friday’s horrific and tragic mass shooting, many point to the problems within our society in terms of the Mental Health system. I think it is important to address this issue head on, but as we do, let us not forget the history of the Mental Health system in America, and why it is in such a mess today.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy enacted the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which augmented the trend toward deinstitutionalization with the establishment of Community Mental Health Centers. With the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960’s the federal government assumed a growing share of the responsibility of the costs of mental health care. In the 1960 and 70’s, state and national policies championed the need for comprehensive community mental health care. Unfortunately this ideal was slowly and only partially realized, such are the outcomes of anything the government touches, and attempts to take over and run! Think of any government-run program, such as, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Fannie and Freddie Mac. Any time we allow the federal government to take over and run a program it becomes corrupt, and fails.
Deinstitutionalization was originally an idealistic and altruistic goal represented by its advocates and consumers as a liberating and humane policy alternative to long-term hospitalization. It was also viewed as a series of long overdue health policy reforms that were associated with the gradual demise of mental health care dependent on large, state-supported hospitals. Deinstitutionalization is often attributed to decreased need for hospital care and the arrival of new psychiatric medicines. So we see that deinstitutionalization represents a more humane and liberal treatment of mental illness within a community-based setting. However, pragmatically, it represents a change in the scope of mental health care from longer term, custodial inpatient care to shorter outpatient care.
The Community Mental Health Centers are a good idea, but have we allowed our political correctness to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction? Our desire to bring a higher quality of life to individuals with mental health related issues is noble and a worthier endeavor, and something we should be striving for always. The problem we face is that community-based mental health facilities are scarce and in rule areas non-existent! Another problem created by deinstitutionalization is the very real and visible problem of homelessness among the mentally ill in this country. Between 30 to 50% of homeless individuals in the United States are people with mental illness and people with severe and chronic mental illness. http://www.minddisorders.com/Br-Del/Deinstitutionalization.html
It is very, very clear that our Mental Health system is broken and needs repair. However, we must not forget, or ignore the fact that there are some individuals who are so mentally ill, so emotionally damaged, that we cannot save them. That is the anguish of every mental health professional across this country, coming to terms with the very real fact that we cannot save or help everyone! We cannot reach everyone! That some individuals are so disturbed that institutionalization, long-term custodial care is the best, the only viable option for them, their families and for the community! Until we realize that, until we admit that, we will continue to be faced with such tragic scenes as what we faced on Friday, December 15th, in Newtown Connecticut.
As a society when something like this happens we search for someone to blame. We want to lash out at someone to place the blame on something which has caused such heartbreak. The President said in his address at the candle light vigil, …”this is the fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims and in between there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country almost daily reports of victims many of them children…”
Hang on there a minute Mr. President, no there have not been daily reports of mass shootings across America; the President is exaggerating to make a point, to drive home his agenda to ban guns. Yes, this is a tragic event, and yes, there needs to be a conversation about how we prevent this from happening again in the future, however, banning guns is not the answer, if anything our national conversation should be around arming citizens, arming schools and churches across this nation! This theory, this ideology of taking away the guns from good, decent honest citizens is absurd! It is time to call the kettle black and stop this ridiculous notion that banning gun ownership is the answer to all gun crime problems! By taking away the rights of the good, honest, decent citizens this notion of punishing them, you give the criminals, and the mentally ill individuals cart blanch, and more innocent lives will be taken.
President Obama went onto say in his vigil speech “we cannot tolerate this anymore, these tragedies must end!” And how pray tell does he intend to assure that such a tragedy will never occur again? By taking away our 2nd Amendment rights? Does he honestly believe that is the answer? Because if he does, and if many of you also believe that will solve the problem, then I must say that the President of the United States of America has totally and completely lost the plot and is off playing with the farriers in la, la land, as are those of you that believe that more gun control, and or a ban on gun ownership will prevent such tragedies in the future! I was given some heart to hear the President say, that “no single law, no set of laws can eliminate every senseless act of violence in our society.” He is absolutely correct you cannot and never will be able to legislate morality. We must accept that there are just some people in this world that are evil, and that cannot be reached, and these people must be locked up and the key thrown away!
Such tragic events have not happened “year after year after year,” as the President indicated in his vigil speech. So step down off your soapbox Mr. President and be a leader not a politician with an agenda. Lead the national conversation, do not dictate the conversation, and for God’s sake Mr. President DO NOT THREATEN the American people with further abuse of the power your office holds, or power you think your office holds! That is not what a grieving nation needs from their President! http://youtu.be/M1gSsm5xlKQ
“Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?” Seriously, I believe we do Mr. President. Let’s take a step back from this tragic event for a moment and let us examine the lives of children in oh, say Pakistan, where one little girl who dared to stand up for the rights of all little girls to attend school was shot in the head by grown apparently sane Muslim men who disagree and want and believe that women should not be educated, should not leave the house, and should remain barefoot and pregnant! Let us take a look at the lives of children in Sudan Africa, where the challenges children face are enormous! Due to ongoing conflict many children live under the constant threat of violence daily as well as the possibility of exploitation and abuse! Let us look at the street lives of Tibetan children after China’s liberation and compare and contrast them with that of American children. http://youtu.be/FApHOA3hylM
What happened on Friday, December 15th although extremely tragic and gut wrenching is not as the President and others within the Progressive/Liberal Left movement would have you believe, a routine event in American life. What has become a routine event in American life is our politicians using such tragic events to further perpetuate their agendas!
It is apparent that we have a very real problem with our mental health system in America and yes, it is time to have a national conversation about it. But let us not exaggerate the problem to score political points, in so doing; we cheapen, devalue and degrade the lives of twenty beautiful young souls, and six courageous adults. So let’s all put on our big girl and big boy panties and let’s see if we are capable of having an adult conversation about what the real problem is in America, a failed government managed Mental Health System.