Unfortunately, today and the next week or so will be a time when the media and society will once again focus on the incidence of mass murder by mentally disturbed individuals. Whether we’re talking about the horrible Colorado movie theatre shootings or the South Carolina shooting, it still always comes down to the availability of guns, money, politics, and lack of access to mental health.
The typical person needing mental health services will wait 3 weeks on the low side to 3 months on the high side to get an appointment to be seen. Medical management appointments for psychiatry probably average close to 10 minutes if you average all the available care provided, in terms of face to face time. Time with a Psychiatrist or Psychiatric Nurse Practioner or Psychiatric Physician Assistant is expensive and limited. Quality care is even more limited to those with the best insurance coverage and the ability to pay out of pocket for the co-pays of care. Psychiatric care is the most expensive because it takes more than one or two appointments to evaluate for the diagnosis, and determine appropriate treatment. The deductibles for insurance are very high, and when most people with psychiatric needs really need the ear of someone to really listen, very few who need this service can actually afford it. One of the goals of the affordable care act was to try to make these services more affordable, but they still aren’t.
Our government guarantees our civil rights, right to privacy and right to bear arms. Most of those who might think of committing such violent acts aren’t honest about their plans when they are in care. The Mental Health Providers are limited by the protections that keep those with violent thoughts free unless there is imminent danger; because there is a big difference between thought and actions. Even with the medications on the market today, auditory hallucinations are probably the most treatment resistant symptom. A patient might say he has those voices telling him to do something violent, or has thoughts of doing something violent, but he can’t be hospitalized against his will unless they admit they don’t have the control not to act on them. Even when they are hospitalized, they will only be kept for a few days, which doesn’t really protect the public. Hospitalization is very expensive care.
So the gun control people will continue to argue that gun possession is your right, and nothing will change there. Every horrific event that occurs doesn’t seem to change the easy access people in the US have to weapons, and as long as weapons are this available, they will be used in inappropriate ways. Access to health care is too expensive already and with the governmental officials already fighting over every little expense because they’d rather argue, call names, and point fingers than actually fix anything, the government making sure better and more quality care is available throughout the US won’t happen.
We use our educational resources teaching children and young adults information that they may never actually use. What if we changed some of the focus of education by adding courses and lessons that improve children’s empathy, coping skills, stress management and tolerance? Teaching yoga and Tai Chi could be easily integrated into gym programs. “Health” and Science classes could focus more on improving one’s mental health. Teaching Mindfulness, CBT classes, and DBT classes; research based skills that improve one’s mental and physical health, could easily be incorporated into current classes. What do you think those changes could make to the functioning of society as a whole?