Gun control would not have prevented the senseless loss at Sandy Hook Elementary.

4 years ago

A simple match and gas can could have been just as deadly.

If we truly want to stop these incomprehensible acts, our nation must focus our energies on mental health. We must go to the root of the problem, not put a politically-charged band-aid on the hardware used.

Twenty children, all innocent little first-graders – dead.  Seven women, among them mothers, teachers and a principal. Gone. The 20-year-old shooter, a child in most of our eyes, is lost, too. An entire nation in shock.

News channels question which public policy issues will be examined, “Will Connecticut School Shooting Spur Gun Control Action?” “Will School Security Come Under Scrutiny?” and “Make the USA a Safer Place.”

I’m seeing very little about mental health.

Why is that?

First of all, there is little or no corporate money supporting mental health lobbying. Not enough profit in it, I guess.

Secondly, human capital is scarce. Most parents of children with mental health issues are exhausted, with little energy left to continue fighting the battle. Families are stretched thin financially after having to hire special tutors and pay for medical specialists, oftentimes not covered by insurance. Others step back into silence, hoping their child won’t have a stigma attached.

Folks, this is a national epidemic.

“1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder,” according to National Institute of Mental Health (in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control).

The American Psychological Association states, “an estimated 15 million of our nation’s young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many more are at risk of developing a disorder due to risk factors in their biology or genetics.” Only 7 percent receive the help they need.

The anxiety and stress associated with these kids’ challenges drives them into insanity. You can start to understand why some of them commit such acts of desperation.

Think about it. By the time they are 4 or 5 years old, our little ones are saddled with stigmas ranging from ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism.

Every day they are ostracized, bullied, pulled out of classes, tutored after school, IEP-d . . . segregated by having to sit at “the Sped” lunchroom table or study in ‘special’ classrooms. They are profoundly affected because they are labeled as different.

From the news sources, this painfully awkward boy had battled with a type of autism as well as a personality disorder. According to his aunt, Adam Lanza was an Honor Roll student even though he had ‘learning issues’. He had no previous arrest records.

She continued to say that Adam’s mother battled with the school board and ended up home-schooling her son. “I’m not 100% certain if it was behavior or learning disabilities, but he was a very, very bright boy. He was smart.” A friend described him as a genius.

I get it. I’ve fought those same battles, seeing little or no progress.

It is my hope that this incident will bring national attention to mental health. This Newtown community seems to be filled with well-educated, upper income families who have the means and the connections to make a swift impact on Washington.

I hope they’ll not waste their energies on political battles – with gun control or more school safety. I hope they’ll realize what killed their children and become true beacons of change.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  How can we help?

Join NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Impress upon your US Representative and Senator the importance of mental health funding.


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