Reader's view: Gun debate overshadows mental health efforts
As graduate students in the human services field we would like to take a moment to highlight a portion of President Obama's "now is the time" plan for increasing mental health services for children. The plan has received much negative attention b...
As graduate students in the human services field we would like to take a moment to highlight a portion of President Obama's "now is the time" plan for increasing mental health services for children. The plan has received much negative attention because of media attention on gun control. Aspects of the mental health delivery system are addressed in this plan and are being overshadowed. Media hype surrounding gun control creates stigma because it identifies people who experience severe and persistent mental illness as highly unpredictable and often violent, which often is untrue.
We wish to offer a brief summary of what the president is proposing in his plan. First, the president is proposing a new initiative called project AWARE, or Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education. This initiative will provide training to teachers so they can provide intervention early on. It also will help schools partner with community agencies to help children via their families' access to needed services. The president's plan is seeking to reach people ages 16 to 25 to help them gain access to the services while, in addition, expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 17 million Americans.
As practitioners with a critical eye, we understand the president's plan may not be comprehensive enough to meet the needs of all states, including Minnesota. Those of us who work in this field should be paying attention because our clients rarely have a voice in the policy that affects their lives. We as mental health practitioners need to educate ourselves and take a direct stance in policymaking through advocacy to make sure the services that are implemented as part of the president's plan will meet the needs of the clients we serve each and every day.
Ramona Hemphill, Duluth
Kelly Watson, Columbia Heights, Minn.
The writers are graduate students at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.