What Happened to Mental Health Reforms?

Guns, gun buyers, Bill of Rights, background checks, NRA, ... The current news cycle screams these terms at the average readers daily, as people in Washington D.C. debate what's fair, what's unfair, how to protect the Second Amendment vs. how to protect society.  I won't even get into the lobbying done by the NRA, an activity that muddied the already black waters surrounding this topic.

All of this leads me to wonder - what happened to reforming our mental health systems?

More background checks would not have guaranteed that the Sandy Springs school shooting would not have happened.  Shorter clips would not have helped; a shooter just needs to carry more clips.  A buzz-in system did not deter the shooter.

So making changes related to guns and school security will not prevent the next shooting, because there was nothing wrong with these in the first place.  What might have changed the situation is if the shooter had adequate mental health care.

So why is no one discussing the lack of decent mental health care?  Why do we focus on guns and locks when they are not the problem?

I know that focusing on guns is in a lot of ways easier that discussing mental illnesses, because passing a new gun law is a quick solution that does not necessitate big changes in society, does not cost unknown amounts of money, and does not effect the majority of citizens.  But the easy solution is not even a temporary fix, since the problem does not actually involve guns.

The problem involves how society views anyone with a mental illness, from depression to bipolar disorders to schizophrenia.  It is more socially acceptable to have a physical illness, from a cold to anything short of AIDS, than to admit having a mental illness, even if it's as common as depression.

But neither a person nor a government can legislate changes in societal attitudes, demanding equal treatment from the masses.  And that is why the government appears to be closing its eyes, plugging its ears, and singing loudly and out of tune to itself when asked about changes to our mental health care systems.

We need to stand up, and actively start treating people with mental illnesses as normal.  We need to teach our children not to be afraid of someone different, whether that difference is skin color, religion, sexuality, or mental processes.  We need to lead our own revolution against this problem, or we will be burying more people who only needed a little bit of understanding and empathy, as well as everyone they kill.

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