For as long as there have been humans there have been crazy humans.
That we can not change.
But we also can’t ignore it.
People, particularly adults, and more specifically male adults, are slipping through the cracks of our fragile mental health care system. And the result is that many, many innocent people are gunned down in cold blood.
Life is bleak for many of the estimated 45 million people living in the US with a mental illness. Of the millions of homeless, nearly half of them have a mental illness.
And now with austerity running rampant, more are certainly on their way to life on the streets.
From 2009 to 2012, individual states, facing budget shortfalls, have taken a hatchet to public mental health care spending. According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, states have collectively slashed $4.35 billion in public mental health spending over the three year period.
And so we have a mass shooting in Aurora, in Newtown, at the Navy Yard in DC, and more will undoubtedly follow.
But what do we do about the problem? We scream about gun rights. We briefly lament the sad state of our mental health care system. We mourn the dead. We pray for the survivors. We bury the dead. We go back to work.
We need to wake up, because in their own twisted way, these murderers are telling us something.
They’re shouting, “Look at what your society is capable of creating. Look at me. For you have failed me.”
I doubt the gunmen are actually thinking about it like this, but that’s my take. These killing sprees are clearly a sign that something is wrong with our society. It could be guns, but it’s clearly a failure of our mental health care system to deal with these men.
We spend literally trillions on wars, police and prisons. Yet, it’s because of our unwillingness to deal with mental illness in any rational way, that we have these mass murders.
Mental illness should be treated like any other health care issue with dignity, respect and access for everyone.
There needs to be a national movement to change how we approach mental health care in this country.
We need a massive ad campaign to open up the conversation about mental health care in America.
We need documentaries.
We need regular prime time TV to deal with mental illness in a meaningful way that furthers the conversation.
We need to stop talking about which nation we want to bomb and start talking about solving our own problems right here.
We have much to solve, and providing adequate mental health care needs much, much more effort.