Mental Health Treatment Is Not Violence Prevention

According to an article in Politico, Sandy Hook spurs states’ mental health push, some states have acted following President Barrack Obama’s call for renewed national focus on mental health.

At least 37 states have increased spending on mental health in the year since Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children, six school employees and his mother in Newtown, Conn. It’s not just about money, either. States are experimenting with new — and sometimes controversial — ways to raise awareness about psychological distress, to make treatment more accessible for children and adults and to keep firearms away from those struggling with mental illness.


Let’s see.

a. Raise awareness about psychological distress…Is that like advertising “mental illness” and its “treatment”?

b. Make treatment more accessible for children and adults…Are we selling mental health services here, and Expanding Those Services (i.e. increasing the numbers of people labeled “mentally ill” and, thereby, as it is put, “served”) of which it is comprised?

c. Keep firearms away from those struggling with mental illness…We have three entities that we have to contend with here.

                    i. people

                    ii. firearms

                    iii. “mental illness”

Although without a known physical presence, theory has it that the third entity, “mental illness”, exists, and that it leads, in turn, when in combination with people and firearms to massive acts of violence against humanity. Problem is, what do we mean by this term, “mental illness”, and when fully one forth of the residents of the United States are thought to have it, does it really have any valid meaning whatsoever?

Schools are screening students, teachers and school employees are being educated on recognizing the signs of “mental illness”, and seminars are being held. I just have a conceptual problem with turning schools into mental health police departments busting more people, and here when we say people we’re talking CHILDREN, for alleged “mental illness”, on the presumption that doing so has anything to do with the rate of violence in this nation.

The most contentious measures are laws passed in more than a dozen states that require some reporting of mental health status as part of background checks for firearms purchases.


Among these ‘contentious measures’ aimed at violating the second amendments rights of citizens who have experienced the mental health system, names have been added to a national criminal database of people deprived of those rights, additionally violating privacy rights and, in New York state, mental health workers are encouraged to report people in therapy in the mental health system, thought potentially dangerous, to the police. Meanwhile, if one scans the news, police officers are shooting unarmed civilians, often thought “mentally ill”, every day of the week, for behaviors perceived as threatening. Were these police officers demented? Not an issue. The person dispatched has to be the one deranged.

“If someone, anyone who interacted with Adam Lanza could have said, ‘There’s something very wrong here’ and gotten him the help he needed …” [Andrewe] Sperling [NAMI’s director of legislative affairs] said.


The presumption here is that Adam Lanza would have thought he needed some kind of help getting on with his affairs rather than that these particular members of society feel they need some kind of help keeping people like Adam Lanza from doing serious harm to large numbers of the American public. I would say that somebody is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, that is, practicing deception. Why deception? People intuitively know better than to expect beefing up the mental health system, on however small a scale, to have a real effective on violence.

Mental health treatment outcomes in this country are, in many cases, dismally bad. Putting more money into ineffective programs are not going to improve those bad outcomes. Although stress is put on the importance of early detection, when it comes to treatment results, once a “mental illness” label has been applied those results are going to worse than they would have been where the person, child or adult, was never labeled in the first place.

A few comments on the recent commitment to dialogue on mental health as a violence prevention measure.

1. I think America does have a problem.

2. I think there are many questions as to whether the national solution won’t actually make matters worse

We need a more tolerant loving country. We need to raise children to grow up to be good people. Blaming the problem on people with “mental illness” is a red herring. People in the mental health system are simply not more inherently violent than people outside of that system and, if anything, studies show them to be less violent. They do face a lot of discrimination and prejudice though. Witness this matter of them, as a block, being blamed for massive acts of violence in this country. This is ignoring the fact that they are us. We’ve got an arrogant gun toting populace, and to get back to the habitable nation we once knew, we are going to have to expend more of the love we lavish on guns, and other material possessions, on people, and people beyond the confines of one’s own immediate nuclear family, however threatened we may feel we may be by this beyond.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: