Mental Health Care System, One Year After Sandy Hook Shooting
GAINESVILLE -North central Florida families coping with mental illness say they need more help in the wake of another school shooting today-- this one in Colorado. The shooter is dead and two students were hurt. And tomorrow will be one year since the sandy hook massacre. While there have been some advances in funding mental illness programs, some families here in north central Florida don't think it's enough.
On December 14th 2012, Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That day he took the lives of 27 people; 20 of those people were children. As a young boy, Lanza had been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses which for many, raises questions about our mental health system.
Much like Adam Lanza's mother, Ruby Washington of Gainesville is taking care of a young boy with mental disorders. Kamal, her grandson has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.
"Sometimes it's hard to deal with him," said Washington. "He had run outside and locked the room door. He locked me outside the other night (and I don't whether I should say that on the camera or not)."
Lanza also had a number of mental illnesses. Not getting the right type of help for her grandson is something that worries Washington. Only last month insurance companies were required to cover mental health benefits.
"I am hoping he doesn't grow up to go to jail or be in prison or anything like that. The main thing about it is that you really have to work with them. And just be there for them you know?,” Washington said.
According to state budget data, the rankings for the current fiscal year haven't been completed. However, Florida is consistently one of the lowest per capita spenders on mental health programs, ranking last in 2011 and only beating Texas [for last place] in 2012.
Courtney Stahl, Licensed Clinical Psychologist of North Florida Regional Hospital said, "If you look at the research over the last 4 or 5 years, there's been a lot of cuts in funding from mental health programs. The good news is-- a step in the right direction is the $100 million that the federal government is releasing towards mental health programs."
Something Washington is looking forward to. "I give him a hug and I tell him how much I love him and he's the best thing that's in my life right now," Washington said.
The mental health pledge will be split in to two--50 million will go to community health centers while the other 50 million will be used to improve facilities. However, Families like the one I talked to today, don't know if that will be enough.
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