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We must address mental health services problem in wake of school shooting

I am certain we are all shocked and our hearts are going out to the families of the victims, their families and community in Newtown, Conn. There will be a lot of soul searching among politicians regarding gun control. I hope there is the same amount of attention paid to the terrible job authorities and our representatives at all levels across the country have paid to the deterioration of mental health services over the past two decades.

A great number of recent shootings have been committed by persons with previous mental health issues. Many of them diagnosed and treated at one time or another. This treatment is short term because most of the “institutions” outside the corrections system have been closed or downsized, creating a serious shortage of resources. There are many other problems with the mental health services for which I am unqualified to make an informed comment. That is for professionals. I will propose that the release of those who would have required in-patient services in the past have been placed in community-based services or released without appropriate and effective after-care services. That makes us all potential victims.

How many victims have been injured and killed by mentally ill individuals with or without guns? I believe that this is the real problem, not guns. I believe that guns are not the issue; guns in the wrong hands is. Let’s ask the harder question. Can we afford not to address the mental health services problem?