Mass Shootings and Mental Health

I wasn’t going to say anything about the Sandy Hook tragedy. There has been so much commentary, much of it counterproductive. Then I heard someone say we should reopen mental hospitals. I have some experience in that area. I used to work in institutions, and that’s not the answer.

When we started moving patients out of institutions in the 1960s, we didn’t adequately fund the alternatives—group homes and other community resources. We still don’t. Those alternatives are a much better way to address the complicated problem of mental disturbances and the stress that causes for so many families. Treatment for mental health has improved greatly in recent years, but it is often not accessible to those with low to moderate income. We can do better.

We rightly declared that it is inhuman and ineffective to treat mental illness by warehousing people. Now it’s time to put our money where our mouth was.

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