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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Learning Not To Run Away-The Aftermath of Newtown From A Mental Health Perspective

Grief will soon turn to anger in the aftermath's of what occurred in Newtown this past week with the shootings of innocent children in a small quaint community school in Connecticut.  As families and communities begin to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives let us remember that we must not be afraid to face the fire...our fears...and try to educate ourselves on viable solutions so that this kind of tragedy doesn't repeat itself.  Adam Lanza was a very ill and demented child that somehow obtained a gun and destroyed not just his own life but the lives of other family members within his community.  I'm reminded of the Bob Geldoff song "I Don't Like Mondays" regarding the Texas shootings that took place in the 70's when a demented  young girl decided to bring a shot gun to the local university and begin shooting.  When they finally apprehended her after the killings had stopped they asked her why.  Her response was simple.  "I Don't Like Monday's", she replied.  In the aftermath of Newtown we do not have answers to why from Adam Lanza and this must be extremely frustrating to the community and the families in order to bring some type of closure.  

Mentally ill patients, psychiatrists and social workers have been given another blow by this event establishing greater stigma's towards themselves and the freedom's they might already have worked hard to achieve within their own personal struggles but we must not forget that this is the time to act and not sit silent as victim's of a senseless shooting.  Now is the time to educate ourselves on mental health issues and learn more about what offers up the trigger factor for a young man who had "The silicon chip inside his head...switched to overload", as Geldoff poetically reveals in his song.  It is time to look for answers amoungst the mentally ill, practitioners of psychotherapy circles and social workers as they scammer to do better jobs of identifying children who are mentally disturbed.  Detection must come early and it seems only natural now to direct better testing methods early on in hopes that another senseless shooting will not place guns into the hands of those who can easily use them on innocent lives as well as themselves.  

What now will happen to the rights of the mentally ill now that Adam Lanza has taken us back 10 steps in order to mover 20 more forward?  Are we destined to become another 4th Reich isolating those who are mentally ill back into prisons and taking away their right to vote, their right to speak, their right to advocate.  Now is the time for educating communities about mental health issues and finding answers that will bring us into a new era of mental health awareness...the advent of taking off from work to have a mental health day may not be a bad idea but it is imperative that we try and funnel our communal anger towards the shooter and ask  ourselves what have I done to educate myself about mental health, the dangers in stress and anxiety holding our lawmakers, politicians and police enforcers more accountable to take part in keeping guns away from those who are mentally ill?  Placing a gun into the hands of anyone who is not mentally stable is like placing a suicide bomber into a crowded town square.  We must be relentless in understanding the problem early either in schools or at home and keep the weapons of mass destruction away from those who are able to obtain them without any kind of background check.  The system of checking handgun applicants must be reevaluated and streamlined to prevent another gun from getting into the hands of another mentally ill person.  The NRA will say guns are not the problem, people that use them are.  Then why not take the gun factor out of the equation by doing better background checks on potential owners.  That's the first answer.  Secondly, it's time to allocate more funding towards identification of potential mental health patients through the eyes and ears of mental health practitioners.  Now is not the time to cut back on mental health programs like state run PACT programs and social workers along with psychotherapists expenses for office hours.  Now is the time to allocate funding into the schools and help teachers better identify signs of a mental health emergencies so that the teachers are able to make some kind of sense out of strange and unusual behavior.  We must not start turning completely towards a state of placing "I'm Mentally Ill" stickers on every mental health patient that is out there.  It's a balancing act that must not violate the rights of the mentally ill community either.  It's time to bring about better training for mental health professionals and find ways to bring about awareness WITHOUT exploitation.

Adam Lanza was a victim of a community that turned their back on his mental health needs and in turn he destroyed a community and himself.  We must not turn our backs on the many other children who suffer from an identifiable mental health disorder.  Now is the time to take action and begin steps towards early detection and testing of our children and their mental health condition and make sure we can nip an ongoing problem in the butt early before we jump to conclusions and begin taking away the rights of the mentally ill as well.  The Patients Bill of Rights should be evaluated once again and the problems of not knowing how to answer the cries of Adam Lanza must be taken into account by community members, police and politicians.  Careful monitoring and supervision are needed to protect the rights of the mentally ill and the rights of community members along with families.  Gun control must be enforced better so that no child get's their lives senselessly taken away without the chance to make a difference.

Peace and safe surfing,


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