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Melody T. McCloud M.D.
Melody T. McCloud M.D.

Mental Health Experts, After Sandy Hook, If Not Now, When?

Forget the NRA. Washington should meet with mental health professionals 'stat.'

Now is the time for all good mental health professionals to come to the aid of our country: Come together as a formidable body with a voice and a cause to be heard. Step forward en masse and bring mental health issues to the fore of American society, lexicon and legislation.

Once again we are faced with terrible tragedy: The mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. Add these 26 innocent souls (20 of whom were children) to those murdered in Aurora, CO; in the mall in Portland, OR; the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, or the shootings in Tucson, AZ; plus Virginia Tech, Columbine…the list goes on.

Shortly after the Newtown, CT massacre, most pundits began to discuss the NRA and gun control debates; and yes, that discussion needs to be had and new laws need to be placed. (Why is the NRA, and yes, the Gordon Norquists of our land given so much power!?) I, however, feel that the primary discussion needs to be about mental health issues. In fact I tweeted (a rare event, as I’m still learning the twitter-verse-thing): “Forget the NRA, politicians need to get with MENTAL HEALTH professionals to examine the problem of mass killings in our land.”

At least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings,” according to a study by Mother Jones magazine, yet politicians only loosely mention mental health problems in passing. It needs to be given a concentrated focus. Edmund Burke said, "All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

As a medical professional (ob-gyn and surgeon), I encourage my colleagues in the psychiatric fields, along with psychologists, to come together and form a body to go to Washington, DC. Meet with our officials and bring all these issues to light.

I encourage President Obama to summon many in the mental health fields to Washington, to meet with him, and yes, if need be, bypass the expected battles in Congress and use the ‘power of the pen’ to get some things in place, soon, for the good of our land. We don't have time for the battles; and haven’t we had enough unnecessary death?

The discussion can include what is the problem with young White men—who most of these mass killers are? What can be done to remedy so much family dysfunction that may play a role in the psyche of so many young people? What about getting health insurance companies to cover mental health problems more consistently? [Example: Unless Borderline Personality Disorder is linked with another disorder with an “Axis 1” categorization, the workup and treatment of BPD likely won’t be covered. I have a special interest in BPD because someone I know exhibited signs from early on in his life, but no one picked up on the diagnosis until me, and he’s now a senior citizen who’s had a terribly pained life; even self-injures. See the BPD flowchart I created (to be added soon).]

And while you're at it, give voice to the high number of suicides, not only in our military, but in general society. And also look at the psyche of our elected officials in Washington: so many of them exhibit a negative, hostile spirit toward each other. Why must this be? Where does this come from? It needs to stop.

I’ve often wondered what effect the uncompromising spirit of those in DC has on the psyche of young people. Those in power should be role models, and good examples of decency and professionalism. Instead they bully each other. They fight constantly. They are unwilling to work things out, be reasonable, or yes, "compromise"…and so the fights, and hate, and hostility and anger continue. Kids see this and it can’t help but affect them, even if they don’t have a mental disorder. It all needs to stop.

Mental health professionals…now is the time to make your voices heard. If not now, then when?

Copyright © 2012 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Any excerpts reproduced from this article should include a hyperlink to this—my original post on Psychology Today, with author credit. Feel free to post the link to any of my PT posts, to your social network pages. Follow me here at PT (mostly); and on Twitter: @DrMelodyMcCloud.

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About the Author
Melody T. McCloud M.D.

Melody T. McCloud, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and the author of First Do No Harm: How to Heal Your Relationships Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers.

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