Some news organizations also covered the stigma faced by people with mental health problems.
CQ HealthBeat: After Shooting, Congress Ponders Mental Health Role
Lawmakers in both chambers are calling for Congress to start a conversation about mental health issues in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, with one goal of ensuring adequate funding for services for those who need treatment. Although much of the discussion since last week's shooting has focused on gun policy, several members are also emphasizing the role that mental illness has played in many national tragedies. Congress has taken little action on the issue this year, and mental health leaders are hopeful that events in Newtown, Conn., could spur lawmakers to move forward (Attias, 12/17).
Politico Pro: Carney: Mental Health Part Of Newtown Response
White House spokesman Jay Carney invoked the Affordable Care Act on Monday when discussing the mental health implications of last week's shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. -; namely, that the health law requires mental health services to be a part of the basic insurance package that millions of Americans are slated to get. "Obamacare, if you will, has ensured that mental health services are a part of the services that the 30 million additional Americans … will receive," he said (Cheney, 12/17).
The New York Times: Fearing A Stigma For People With Autism
Amid reports from neighbors and classmates that the gunman in the shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., had an autism variant known as Asperger syndrome, adults with the condition and parents of children with the diagnosis are fighting what they fear may be a growing impression that it is associated with premeditated violence. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders, who are often bullied in school and in the workplace, frequently do suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts … But experts say there is no evidence that they are more likely than any other group to commit violent crimes (Harmon, 12/18).
St. Louis Beacon: The Difficult Relationship Between Mental Health And Violence
Statistics show that the overall contribution to violence by mentally ill people in the United States is "exceptionally small," according to Jackie Lukitsch, director of advocacy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in St. Louis. But the persistent belief that mental illness equals violence feeds a harmful stigma and may actually prevent people from getting help. "Stigma is the No. 1 reason people don't seek mental-health care when they need it," Lukitsch said. "Getting it, I think, would reduce the possibility of these incidences" (Fowler, 12/18).
Kanas Health Institute: Mass Shootings Raise Concerns About Kansas Mental Health System
[Rick Cagan] runs the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Kansas Chapter office in Topeka. ... Mass shootings nearly always rekindle debates about gun control and the adequacy of the nation's mental health system. Commenting on the latter, Cagan said many Kansans with mental illness are not getting the early treatment they need to avoid crises. … In Kansas, state-hospital admissions are reserved for adults who are seriously mentally ill and have been deemed a danger to themselves or others (McLean, 12/17).
WBUR: Former Commissioner Laments Weaknesses In Mass. Mental Health System
WBUR's All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with former state mental health Commissioner Marylou Sudders, who's now on the faculty at Boston College, about the state of mental health services for children in Massachusetts (Pfeiffer, 12/17).
WBUR: Gaps Found In Care, Safety In Mass. Group Homes
Valerie Diaz's worst fears were realized when ... [h]er 24-year-old daughter, an ambitious singer afflicted with debilitating mental illnesses, had been found by workers at the Somerville, Mass., group home where she lived, dangling from a pipe. Her family is now questioning how closely Holloway was supervised at the home, run by a private vendor hired by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. ... An ongoing state investigation into Holloway's death comes as DMH strives to shore up its battered community mental health system, the subject of two critical oversight reports issued in the past 18 months that highlight deep fissures in client care and worker safety (Becker, Mulvihill, and Stine, 12/18).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.