I understand the desire to take some kind of action after the Newtown school massacre. The President's pushing Congress to clamp down on guns, to pass universal background checks on gun purchases, bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
You're going to be hearing a lot about that, some of it I agree with, a lot I don't. But all that has overshadowed what I believe is more important, mental illness among children and teenagers, and I'm glad to see the President's plan does address it.
The head of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that does great work, says the President's plan calls for:
- Training school personnel to recognize signs of mental illness.
- Improving mental health and substance abuse treatment for those 16-25.
- Training more than 5-thousand new mental health professionals to serve young people.
- And improving the public's understanding of mental illness.
That would be a good start, and it's far more important than gun control in my opinion. It's estimated over the last three years, states have cut spending on mental health by $4.3 billion. Unfortunately we're reaping the consequences of those cuts.
Parents whose children have been diagnosed with a mental illness feel lost and alone. It's time for us to get serious about helping them.