Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mental Health Is A Public Safety Issue

Every day in the news, there's always someone going on a rampage, a shooting spree, or randomly attacking people with knives, machetes, bows and arrows, hammers, or syringes. These attacks are happening everywhere, in China, in Britain, even in Ottawa and there's generally one line in the story which admits that the person is unbalanced, undiagnosed, or a person suffering from a disorder who may not be taking their medication.

It's horrific. You have no idea who may be suffering from a condition and what might make them crack, if anything. It's not something you can predict, control or prevent. Much like terrorism, this isn't something that you can know with any certainty who is going to go from muttered threat to terrible action.

I think that mental health is a public safety issue. We're always talking about religious fanatics and extremists taking up arms for causes. What about those people who have no cause? What about those people who need treatment and can't seem to get it? Instead of putting in place lots of unnecessary safety measures that make it impossible for us to bring cream on board planes, maybe we should be focusing on a much bigger problem and prioritize mental health issues and appropriate facilities and treatment. Just a thought.

We need to start taking better care of people. We need to recognize their needs and work on getting proper diagnosis and treatment for people. And not just for our safety, but for themselves and to improve the quality of their lives. How can anyone feel good about themselves when they're in such a detached state that they would rather attack school children with a hammer rather than live a free and balanced life?

I think we need to make this issue a priority and focus on dealing with mental health issues with proper funding for research and training, as well as infrastructure to support treatment facilities across the country. More important than the foreign wars which are draining our ressources, I think we need to focus on what could become the wars at home if this problem remains undiagnosed and we start to see people hacked to pieces while going about their daily business.

Don't forget the Greyhound beheading. Better early intervention and treatment could have prevented such a tragedy from unfolding. And it's fair to say that most of us don't ever want to see something like that happen again.

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