In wake of shootings, mental health needs also gain attention

After last Friday’s massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, many Americans are taking sides over more government regulation of firearms and ammunition.

But there’s also a growing number of people arguing for better mental health care in the nation — especially as investigators are looking into the mental health condition of Adam Lanza, who has been identified as the shooter in the Connecticut tragedy.

“While these are conversations vitally important, the irony in having these discussions following such tragedies is that evidence shows that the majority of people with mental illness do not commit violent acts,” Liana Riesinger, a program officer for the Health Care Foundation (HCF) of Kansas City, wrote in a column on Tuesday. “In fact, only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness.”

She noted alcohol and drug abuse are far more likely to result in violent behavior.

“We need to change the way our society views mental health conditions and treatment so that families are helped, not blamed and isolated,” Cynthia Keele, executive director of NAMI-Missouri, wrote in a statement Monday. “We need to invest in a strong mental health system to make sure treatment is there when they seek it.

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