In the wake of last Friday’s shootings in Newtown, CT, many in the US are calling for changes to gun laws. Many other Americans, however, are turning their focus to the state of mental healthcare in the US and are looking for ways to improve it to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. Improving mental healthcare will not be easy, however, due to national and state budget considerations, insurance coverage issues, and lack of access to competent care.
On an NBC Nightly News (12/19, story 6, 2:05, Williams) segment, NBC correspondent Ron Mott reported that last Friday’s tragedy and reports that shooter Adam Lanza may have been suffering from mental illness have made many Americans examine the state of mental healthcare in this country. Mott explained, “One in 17 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, and their symptoms range in severity. But fewer than a third receive professional treatment. Fewer professionals are entering the field, and rising costs have reduced the number of hospitals and clinics offering care.” Psychiatrist Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, of the Child Mind Institute, was shown saying: “We don’t treat the disorders from the neck up the way we do the rest of the body. So mental illness is not equal to physical illness and this is truly at our own peril.”
On its website, ABC News (12/20, Lupkin) reports, “Despite four shooting rampages since President Obama took office in 2009, mental health care continues to be hampered by budget cuts, closures, battles with insurers and stigma, doctors said. ‘We have very good treatments for mental illness that are highly effective,’ said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. ‘But they’re not widely available. People don’t have ready access to them.'”
— “Newtown Shooting Put Spotlight on U.S. Mental Health Care — Again, “Sidney Lupkin, abc News, December 19, 2012.