A message from Caminar CEO, Chip Huggins (published in the San Mateo Daily Journal on 12/18/12):
Just as they did following the Aurora, Colorado and Virginia Tech shootings, debates on the access to firearms will once again come to the forefront of the national dialogue. Obfuscating the real issue contributing to these tragedies, including the horrific one last week, can no longer be accepted. We need to deal with the lack of adequate mental health care in our country.
Individuals who commit spree killings are mentally disturbed, but they also carefully plan their strategy over time -- time during which friends, family, and colleagues very often note signs of distress, delusion, or isolation. Had there been the necessary help available, such tragic occurrences could very well have been avoided. But help, as these individuals and their families have found, is becoming increasingly hard to find and access.
Between 2009 and 2012 there has been $4.35 billion cut from public mental health spending. Because of these drastic cuts, there are fewer and fewer options available for people with severe mental illness, or their families. This is especially true in situations such as our recent tragedies where mental illness services have been cut.
With proper care and treatment, recovery happens. There is a dire need for funding for programs that can provide the services that can make the difference between recovery and tragedy. As a country, we cannot afford to let one more person fall through the cracks. Grieving parents, families, and friends of those innocent victims deserve our efforts.
Let’s start by talking about mental health and eliminating the stigma. Stigma makes it too easy to deny this most critical social issue. And let’s bring the need for more mental health funding to the forefront of the national dialogue. It’s not just about the guns. It’s about the health and future of America.