Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Sandy Hook Tragedy Brings Parents Trying to Deal with Children with Mental Health Problems to the Forefront – No Answers or Solutions for those Parents Fearing the Worst.



Some articles apparently get buried in the national conversation, but one that is starting to take hold is that of parents who are expressing their frustration in dealing with a child or young adult who is both mentally ill and prone to violence. In the wake of the massacre in Connecticut, the first thing that was politicized was the need for gun control. Granted, as a defender of the Second Amendment and knowing that there are measures in place that make it difficult if not impossible for the average individual , in most states, to acquire a gun, the fact that certain types of guns are available , those that are more appropriate to a battle field, give pause. There Is, however, another aspect of the problem, and that is the lack of care and options for those parents who, as blogger Liza Long so heartbreakingly suggests, feels she may be the next to be “Adam Lanza’s mother”. Liza goes on to describe her growing fear over a son who is in desperate need of services, but, those services appear to be less than available. She is obviously not alone. A petition was begun on Chang.org. requesting that the Federal Government increase the availability of mental health services. Those signing the petition are also recounting their personal stories. They are angry and fearful that there is nothing that can be done to held their child, brother, sister, family member, before another tragedy occurs. There was a suggestion that the move away from providing adequate mental health facilities, and allowing individuals with server problems fend for themselves, as part of a civil right, may be been the wrong course to take. They speak to the lack of insurance, and how insurance dictates the care, rather than the providers. They speak to the fact that unless an individual is a threat to themselves and/or others, they cannot prevent a crime before it happens. They speak to the statistics on our prison systems where, in the last decade there has been a significant increase in imprisonment of those with mental health disorders, and growing trend towards imprisoning those who are suffering from mental illness, after the fact – once a crime has been committed.

With the lack of adequate care, and care governed by constraints of insurance carriers (whose guidelines are written as a result of both federal and state laws – which is the crux of the problem), those who are dealing with the medical and legal issues of having a loved-one at risk, are helpless to help themselves, their loved one and the community in which they reside.

Then there is the emerging story of Adam Lanza, from the fact that he was given an antipsychotic drug that had less than stellar side-effects (Business Insider), that the diagnosis of Aspergers by the press, may have been somewhat premature, as it was based on speaking to those “sources” who knew him in high school. It was not definitive, but a pickup by a news agency which went viral. (New York Times).

We have learned that Nancy Lanza had spent the last several months of her life, trying to find a safe place for her son, that she was afraid of him, and that, he knew she was looking for a place for him. This, reasoning of the press, may have been behind his killing of her, as well as the children.

From the British Tabloid (given the source) the family had a history of mental illness, according to the mother’s correspondence with friends: “her own father shut out one of his other daughters at a young age and lived a ‘secret life’ until his past came out. He ‘turned his back’ on baby Cheryl when he remarried and moved away from his home in Ohio to New Hampshire.” the tabloid goes on to suggest this may have been the reason she was so invested in the care of her son.

It appears there are victims on all sides, and that the discussion regarding those with severe mental health conditions needs to be dealt with. After the deinstitutionalization in the U.S., the violent crime rate soared. There were no longer the gatekeepers, yet, those “institutions” run by the states, were horrible and expensive at the same time. Between the lack of services(be they facilities, availability of appointments and/or doctors) and the stigma that is attached, regardless of our inclusive society, to those that are suffering and those that must pray they are not the “Next Adam Lanza’s mother”, something must be done to help these families, be it on a state or federal level.

A list of national tragedies, compiled in March of this year, from a paper written on Deinstitutionalization:


Something changed in the 1980s: these senseless mass murders started to happen with increasing frequency. People were shocked when James Huberty killed twenty-one strangers in a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California in 1984, and Patrick Purdy murdered five children in a Stockton, California schoolyard in 1989. Now, these crimes have become background noise, unless they involve an extraordinarily high body count (such as at Virginia Tech) or a prominent victim (such as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords). Why did these crimes go from extraordinarily rare to commonplace?

To read the entire article in PDF (which covers the care, or lack of care in both the U.S. and abroad for those who are in need) click here. One may not agree with the political bent, but the premise aligns fairly well with what has taken place, and what will continue to take place, unless and until something is done to reform the health system, the regulations regarding mental health care and the insurance industry.

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