Not long ago Michael Swanson, a MN boy drove to Iowa and mindlessly shot to death two innocent night clerks in convenience stores. Not long before that another MN boy, Jeff Weise, shot his grandfather to death along with 14 others before he put the gun to his own head. Jeff wrote about homicide & suicide long before the tragedy occurred. Michael Swanson’s mother had been trying for years to find mental health services for her son only to be turned away again and again. Almost every day in my state some crazed youth shoots a five year old, rapes a ten year old, or beats near to death some other innocent person.
Things are no better in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, (or just about anywhere else in this nation). Our communities have no appetite for providing services for people suffering from even the most serious mental health needs.
My experience in child protection services strongly supports the national statistic that 2/3 of youth in the juvenile justice system have mental health problems and one half of them have multiple, chronic, and serious problems.
Judge Heidi Schellhas shared with me the pages and pages of psychotropic medications used by children in her courtroom (some as young as 4 years old).
Dr Bruce Perry with 30 years of research claims that if we do not address the mental health issues facing the children of this nation quickly, that 25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation.
I know families that facilitated their own child’s entrance into the juvenile justice system with the hope that there would be mental health services unobtainable otherwise. How cruel to find that there aren’t any, and now the child has a record.
I know parents who have lost children to murder and violent death. It ruins lives far beyond the coffin. Violent Death spouse and children stay with us forever.
Still, no likes the conversation. James Holmes, Virginia Tech, Mental health, child rape, babies in dumpsters are forgotten quickly as they happen. Blame someone and move on.
More than one current politician is saying that we don’t need teachers, we don’t need police, firemen, public health nurses, day care workers, and certainly not mental health services. In my state, MN, we have 1300 students per counselor in the schools (and tons of psychotropic medicines). Day care workers are paid less than food service workers (the least paid workers in our society). A few years ago New Jersey eliminated all mental health services in their schools (all disruptive youth are now sent to jail).
This is what we think of children and mental health in America.
Find a mirror America, “What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago.