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Mental health goes under microscope after church shooting

November 06, 2017 07:22 PM

When he was asked about gun control laws in the wake of the Texas shooting, President Trump said, "mental health is your problem here."

One local mental health expert says placing the blame so squarely on mental health is wrong – especially, he says, when lawmakers refuse to back it up with funding for services.

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Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association, says whenever there has been a tragedy like the one in Texas, it's not long before mental health issues and services come under the microscope.

He says there's always lots of talk about changing the system and making services more widely available. However, that's all that ever happens -- talk.

According to Liebman, less than five percent of mental health patients are prone to violence and are 10 times more likely to be victims of violent acts. 

He says there are often other mitigating factors that lead to situations like the shooting in Texas. He also says blaming mental health so broadly is counterproductive and actually keeps people from seeking out services by reinforcing stereotypes.

After all, who wants to be grouped into a category with a mass murderer?

"Think about the individual who has a mental health issues who is willing to come forward and start talk about it, all of a sudden saying, 'Well my symptomology and all my issues are completely unrelated to this and yet I'm going to be equated with someone who does something this violent and this awful,'" explained Liebman.

Liebman says we are really no better off at early intervention or providing additional services than we were five or 10 years ago despite all the talking.

One bright spot is a new law in New York State that requires schools to teach mental health education. That starts in September of 2018 -- though many schools have already added it to the curriculum.

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WNYT Staff

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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