Mental health stigma carries steep price

I write this with tears of grief and frustration. Running a nonprofit counseling center over the past 10 years, I have been saddened to witness repeated events like Parkland, followed by anguished vows to “do more about mental health.” Why, then, did an effort to approve Medicare (and probably Medicaid) funding for professional counseling and marriage and family therapy die in a Congressional committee last year? Why is our own center, providing over 8,000 counseling sessions last year for 875 people, on the brink of closure, unable to raise community support – despite the 2014 FedEx rampage in our own town? It’s because we lack “boots on the ground” urgency in our hearts, a compulsion to do something that will make an actual, tangible difference. The crippling issue is not mental health per se, but the stigma that blinds potential supporters from seizing the opportunity to improve both our lives and our security.


School attacks can be minimized, not prevented

When our daughter drops off her twin daughters at their middle school, the girls must pass through the one and only access door, identify themselves to security, and allow their backpacks to be monitored. When our daughter goes to pick up her girls, a distinct, present and active security protocol is in effect. Unlike Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – where, for the last 10 years of my teaching career, I taught before retiring in 2000 – the twins’ middle school is cloistered. Douglas High School is an open campus – which is to say, open to the birds to fly through, open to the wind and rain, open to demented killers. If kids were really, truly important, they’d be schooled within the walls of hardened venues. Such attacks can never be completely prevented, but they can absolutely be minimized.


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