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Mental health care needs reform

sara pardej, bear facts entertainment editor

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Violence in the U.S. has reached almost every corner of daily life, where streets, movie theaters, and schools are all equally at risk. Although gun violence has increased, gun restrictions are not the answer. Instead, the public should have better access to mental health clinics.

            According to Oregon Catalyst, many of the recent massacres involved a shooter who was, in some way, mentally unstable. Adam Lanza (Newtown, Connecticut), James Holmes (Aurora, Colorado), Jared Loughner (Tucson, Arizona), and Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood, Texas) were all perpetrators either treated by a psychiatrist or was noticeably unstable.

            In January, President Barack Obama released a plan to reduce gun violence. The plan includes further background checks, a limit on the type of weapons available, and working with the Center for Disease Control to reduce gun violence by researching violent video games. Additionally, the plan mentions that mental health care will be made more affordable. The plan, however, fails to implement more facilities for the public.

            Although patients will have an easier time paying for treatment, there are simply not enough facilities or professionals. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in the closure of mental health clinics, creating an even greater need for them. This is like if a student desperately needs to buy pens for school, cheap pens are of no use to him or her if there are no pens available to buy.

            Last year in Chicago alone, six out of its twelve mental health care clinics were closed. According to National Public Radio, this will save Chicago about $3 million. But at what cost to the safety of Chicagoans? The city’s government should be more concerned with mental health and the safety of people than money in their pockets.

            Rahm Emmanuel, mayor of Chicago, claims shutting down clinics will be useful, and they are not doing it to save money.

            “I want people to remember, I take the issue of providing benefits and care to those who need mental health benefits seriously,” Emanuel said to National Public Radio. “We’re not pulling back from service. In fact, we’re giving more service to more people and we’re adding a new benefit.”

            Unfortunately, Emanuel fails to recognize how big Chicago actually is. Six public health clinics cannot take on the work load that previously required twelve clinics to handle. Psychiatrists will have a harder time being thorough because they will have to take care of more patients. If patients cannot build a relationship with a doctor, they may have a harder time improving their health.

            A study published by the American Journal of Public Health showed nearly two million more people in 2009 had faced mental distress than in 1999. Since there is a reportedly growing number of  mentally distressed people, the government should be increasing, not decreasing, public clinics.

            Americans deserve the rights they are given, and it is the duty of the American government to uphold the Constitution and help the American people. The first step in keeping Americans safe is by providing more mental health services, rather than revoking rights.

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Lake Zurich High School Student Media
Mental health care needs reform