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mental health policy

danps's picture

Gun violence, public health and the missing piece

Cross posted from Pruning Shears

The massacre in Newtown has once again opened up the discussion of firearms in America. We are getting the usual dumbassery about how this is a punishment from God or the fault of video games (which apparently are unavailable outside of the US) and the usual preemptive whining about how this is not the time to talk about firearm legislation because it would politicize the issue. This is the same spirit in which we refrained from discussing terrorism after 9/11 for fear of politicizing that issue.

It appears that the gun nuts are feeling a little defensive though. Unlike with previous gun massacres, this one has been accompanied by a real push on the role of our abysmal mental health care system. It's actually a great point: we've basically outsourced mental health care to our prisons, with predictably disastrous results. We need to do a much better job of investing in mental health care, removing the shame that surrounds it, and making sure it is available to anyone who needs it.

That doesn't mean it's an either/or situation though. We can both improve mental health care and implement sensible policies to reduce gun violence. One obstacle to the latter is a certain air of resignation and fatalism ("I'm fresh out of ideas. Anybody?") which - surprise! - is a stone's throw from demands for a comprehensive legislative strategy for implementation. Because that is the only way to discuss any issue, and it also explains the absence of war, abortion, finance, inequality and gender policies from our national dialogue. Read below the fold...

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