Little of this understanding seems to inform our current discussion about Loughner, though. Instead, members of Congress are calling for laws that would ban bringing guns near members of Congress or regulating talk radio. Gun control measures will be proposed and die quietly, no doubt. But mental health care—long ignored as the province of neurotic yuppies taking to the couch to discuss their frigid mothers—is barely an afterthought. Yet of all the possible solutions to such mass violence, real mental health reform holds the most promise for saving lives by ensuring that people with brain diseases get the care they need before they seek out the always easily accessible American firearm.
Sometimes these tragedies do lead to change. In 1999, for instance, after serious advocacy by the family of a woman who was pushed in front of a subway by an untreated schizophrenic, New York State created a much stiffer mental health law to allow for violently mentally ill people to be court-ordered into community treatment and essentially forced to take their meds. But when sick people invoke political leanings before shooting members of Congress or sending mail bombs to timber industry lobbyists, politics always seem to prevent a sensible, effective response.
In light of the Tucson tragedy, it would be nice to see the mental health system, or what's left of it, come up for real discussion, including serious consideration of vastly expanding mental health services so that people like Loughner's parents or his philosophy professor or his algebra teacher could have actually gotten him the help he needed before he killed someone. (In the past year, Arizona cut $36 million from its mental health programs, nearly 40 percent of its budget.) If nothing else, maybe it's time for some public service announcements about the symptoms of schizophrenia—how to distinguish them from ordinary teen angst or political passion, and how to intervene. Lots of research now shows that the longer someone with a brain disease remains untreated, the more severe their dangerous delusions are likely to become. Yet most people go years before such disases are properly diagnosed. Early intervention could save a whole lot of lives.
At some point, the country's political leaders will have to find some self-interest in tackling the problem. An estimated 4.5 million Americans suffer from the severest forms of brain disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The National Advisory Mental Health Council estimates that 40 percent of them—1.8 million people—are not receiving treatment on any given day. While most of those folks will remain law abiding citizens, enough of them will make headlines with an act of violence that failing to find a way to treat them isn't just a public health crisis, but a public safety one, too.
this family has plenty of money and lives in a wealthy almost all white town with some of the best schools in the nation, yet this kid did not ever get the help he needed. i seem to recall a recent batman movie shoot em up.....exactly. the. same. story.
If you're trying to make some sort of point, I fail to see what it is.
From Walter's comments, I am under the impression that he has been referring to mental health care for those suffering from the most major psychiatric disorders--those we generally think of as the "mentally ill"--and not to the entire gamut of emotional, and personality, and behavioral problems that exist in the general population.
Lots of people in the general population are now placed on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication by their primary care physician, without also being referred to a mental health professional to better evaluate the diagnosis as well as the need for additional treatment, such as psychotherapy. Is this a good method of treatment for the less major and more common psychiatric disorders? Not really. Very few anxiety and mood disorders are successfully treated by medication alone, and some of the anti-anxiety meds carry an addictive risk. But it's cost-effective for the insurers, provides additional patients for the primary care physicians, and may satisfy those patients who don't want to do more self-examination, or who don't want to think of themselves as in need of mental health care, and who prefer just popping a pill from the family doctor.
People with mental or substance abuse disorders were more likely to get treatment from a primary care physician/nurse or other general medical doctor (22.8 percent), or from a non-psychiatrist mental health specialist (16 percent), such as a psychologist, social worker, or counselor, than from a psychiatrist (12 percent), though the survey did show that the adequacy of treatment — measured by number of visits — is best when provided by mental health practitioners
but it is all up to them to get uncrazy, according to firefly, we cant trample on their right to be sick in the head.
Psychiatric treatment is available for the seriously mentally ill, and many of those people are in treatment and are compliant with their medication. If people refuse to take medication, it really can't be forced on them unless they are an imminent threat to self or others. But many want to take medication because it helps to control psychotic symptoms they find distressing. Most mentally ill individuals aren't bothering anyone, and, as I said before, there is a wide-range in functioning levels among the seriously mentally ill, as well as a range of disorders, but those who behave in disruptive ways, or who act aggressively, are more likely to get noticed, and hospitalized, or to wind up in jail, where psychiatric treatment is also available.
do we do that? hell no, we are going the other direction with primary care docs doing much more than they used to do BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IS HELPING THEIR PATIENTS!
and actually, here the prison psychiatric hospitals (here) aren't bad at all.