On December 14th, 2012, a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School shocked the United States. According to PBS Newshour, there were 372 mass shootings, killing 475 people in 2015 alone. More and more fearful Americans are pushing for stricter gun laws or the change of the second amendment, but is that the best way to stop this carnage in the US?
Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook, had numerous mental health conditions that remained untreated. His parents, doctors, and teachers failed to recognize the warning signs and his need for serious medical help. Unlike physical health, mental health is often overlooked or seen in a negative way. Many people remain in denial and refuse to treat mental disorders out of fear of being seen as different. Mental Health America says that more than half of adults with mental illnesses did not receive the treatment they needed in 2012 and 2013.
Even those willing to receive treatment have a hard time getting the help they need. Waiting lists for psychotherapists can be for weeks up to months. In a lot of emergency cases, patients have to wait up to 13 hours in the ER. The average wait time of 25 days, according to Psychiatric Advisor, is too long for a lot of people who need it. Also, it is common in mental institutions for patients to only get 7 minutes a day with psychiatrists, according to Chandra Bozelko, a former psych ward patient. She says that for the rest of the day, patients just waste time and watch TV.
Further educating all Americans about mental health would help people recognize their problems and seek treatment. Educating teachers could help the youth get the care they need early on. If adults are able to detect warning signs in children early on, they could prevent accidents in the future. If Adam Lanza’s mother had know more about mental health, she might have been more likely to work out his problems early on.
Creating stricter gun laws in the US is definitely not the only or best way to prevent tragedies in the future. Would adding one or two more psychiatrists to each hospital really cost too much? This would decrease the wait time in the ER for those who need immediate attention. Also, just encouraging Americans to talk about mental health would contribute to a solution. Little things can go a long way.