Wouldn’t a system like that cost a fortune?
“So much money goes to so many things that aren’t really a question of life or death,” she said. “This is a question of life or death.”
Good point. The massacre at Virginia Tech — besides taking 32 lives and permanently scarring hundreds more — cost taxpayers about $48.2 million. That’s according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal D.C. think tank that analyzed Cho’s April 16, 2007, attack by sifting through the legal bills, university staffing costs, police costs, hospital bills and autopsy receipts.
Cho needed mental-health care. Would have been cheaper to make sure he got it, right?
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blogged in April about the need for better access to mental-heath care and pointed to a $205 million investment, in programs to help identify mental-health concerns early, in the administration’s fiscal 2014 budget.
That includes “$30 million in tools and research that will expand our understanding of gun violence prevention, including key mental health issues,” she said.
But money isn’t the only obstacle to a better mental-health system. Privacy laws also thwart efforts to connect the dots, Wolf said. Parents who have been tending to children their entire lives legally can’t get any real information once the children are adults.
“When in good faith, people want to intervene and be helpful, these walls go up,” she said.
And try getting all of America’s corporations to sign off on those assessment teams.
To tackle mental illness in America, then, we’ll have to get funding for lots of support staff, spread public awareness and change centuries of stigma, and we need to demolish some of the privacy laws that prohibit real cooperation when it comes to helping people with mental illness.
Easy peasy, right?
And you thought requiring background checks for gun purchases was hard.
For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.