In a letter that could’ve been written in virtually any state by any National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) representative, NAMI Delaware executive director Matthew Stehl and president Mary Berger recently wrote an op-ed for Delaware’s leading newspaper, The News Journal.
In the opinion piece, Stehl and Berger decry the lack of adequate funding for mental illness treatment in the state. In a period of economic recession, state-funded health and human services are usually the first to undergo cuts. But it’s an especially relevant issue in Delaware, because the U.S. Department of Justice struck an agreement with the state to ensure it improves its mental health services for its indigent and poor residents who need mental health services.
All of which is good. I’m all for states and their legislatures to stop looking at the short-term costs of things like mental health treatment and start looking at the longer-term costs of failing to fund adequate mental health care in their state (in terms of increased burdens on the courts, police, emergency rooms, etc.).
What I object to is trotting out a straw man in the form of tragic and violent shootings, and suggest that the lack of access to mental health care was the reason for the shootings at Virginia Tech and Tucson, Arizona. How ashamed I am, as a native Delawarean, when mental health advocates make such irrational appeals to emotion.
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