Since the Newtown shooting, the national discourse on mental health and treatment has been at the forefront of political interest. Connecticut is currently reviewing a chance to improve mental health policies in public schools.
While President Obama is developing a plan to provide $15 million for training school teachers and officials to recognize and deal with students with mental health issues, Connecticut is looking towards supplementing that plan with more social workers in schools.
Senator Beth Bye points out, “We need people in the schools to be more aware of kids who are dealing with social and emotional issues. Early intervention does make a difference.”
Connecticut does not currently allow involuntary outpatient treatment, but change is in the air. It is only one of six states that prohibits this type of treatment.
Some advocates are concerned that improvement to the mental health industry is coming on the heels of a violent tragedy. Those with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crimes, they warn, more than they are likely to be the perpetrators. Conflating mental health with violence does more harm than good, to the detriment of all.
As Victoria Veltri, the state’s healthcare advocate, says, “The system needs a lot of work but it’s not because of what happened on Dec. 14… People may be unintentionally equating gun violence with having a mental health diagnosis. Gun violence is its own public health crisis.”