Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Mental Health Red Herring

The intervention of the gun lobby in the Affordable Care Act was entirely gratuitous and the provisions they inserted mostly utterly unnecessary. The only thing the NRA achieved by meddling in a health care bill was flexing its muscle to stifle one more route to maybe reducing gun violence. - Joan McCarter
If ever there were a larger nonsequitur  in a public debate as important as our current gun control debate, it is the near-constant invocation of concern for our public policy regarding mental health.  Not because I do not care about mental health issues; on the contrary, our public health policies regarding people with mental illness are a mixture of immense failure and widespread ignorance.

Labeling them potential mass murderers is the latest example of both.

This failure of compassion for our fellow Americans is compounded by the utter disregard some politicians have toward our meager mental health system.  The headline of this Think Progress story says it all:

Beyond Gun Control: Republicans Routinely Sabotage Mental Health And Police Budgets

The epigram for this post is from a Daily Kos story that references the way the gun lobby interfered with the construction of the Affordable Care Act in such a way as to make it far more difficult for mental health providers to obtain necessary information to help their patients.  Title X, Section 2716, subsection (c) is entitled, "Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights".  In a July, 2012 article in Forbes magazine, Dr. Carolyn McLanahan wrote:
In medical training, physicians are taught to screen for potential violence. It is amazing how many people will tell you if they are homicidal or suicidal–you just have to ask. As an extension, we ask about access to guns. If a suicidal or homicidal person has access to guns, they are more likely to use that implement to initiate their violent act. This is why we are trained to ask that question. [...] Unfortunately, the gun rights lobby, mostly funded by the National Rifle Association, has time and time again inserted their hand in attempting to shut down that conversation.
In other words, the crocodile tears for the mentally ill flood out of eyes of cold indifference toward the mentally ill.

Like so much else in our political life, there is such an enormous amount of disingenousness piled on top of the lies, it's difficult to tell them apart.  Which makes not having to so much easier.

Virtual Tin Cup

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