Lawmakers: Close look needed at mental health issues
January 16th, 2011
10:56 AM ET
11 years ago

Lawmakers: Close look needed at mental health issues

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the wake of the Arizona shooting, the co-founders of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus want to make sure those who suffer from mental illnesses are able to receive the help they want or need.

Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano of California and Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, who founded the caucus in 2003, both acknowledged Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that more education and action is needed to improve the response to mental illness in the United States.

"I believe that we are not informing and educating the public enough to be able to help them be able to make the decision to help those they love," Napolitano told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "Unfortunately it does not hit the radar scope in Washington or almost in any state house … It's always something you don't talk about, you don't discuss because of the stigma, and I think we need to address that heavily."

Napolitano said educating the public might not have prevented the shooting, but could have helped the alleged shooter before his actions rose to the level that resulted in last Saturday's attack. A motive for the shootings has not yet been determined, but many have pointed to warning signs surrounding suspect Jared Loughner before the attacks, citing red flags raised by classmates and school officials.

Murphy, who worked as a child psychologist before he was elected to Congress, said he hopes members of Congress and those in state Legislatures will be motivated to now "look carefully at their mental health systems and their involuntary commitment system laws," to prevent future attacks.

However, Napolitano was skeptical that the issue will remain in the spotlight.

"Every time there's a tragedy, there's a lot of hoopla for a month, two months, (it) dies down, goes away. Everybody forgets about it and we're on to the next thing," she said.

To prevent that trajectory, Murphy said he hopes to hold hearings to go through the events "piece by piece."

"I want to know where things stand on a state and federal level, what can be done," Murphy said. "We do want to know what happens and what else we can do in the federal level to provide assistance."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Freedom of Speech in the USA

    I don't know why all the discussion. The answer should be very clear. ALL people in this country should be REQUIRED, indeed FORCED, to undergo mental health exams and evaluation. If the American people can be forced to buy healthcare insurance, then why can't they be forced to undergo mental exams? Can't the same arguments used to support forced healthcare purchased also be applied to forced mental evaluations? Shouldn't the rights of the collective be placed above the rights of the individual?

    January 16, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. GI Joe

    The government needed to cut taxes way back in the 70s and 80s, and the mental institutions were done away with.

    It's a shame, but what is the solution? The institutions have been torn down or converted for other businesses. $$$$$ are not to be found for mental health. What is the solution?

    January 16, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    A close look, and as usual, no real action!

    January 16, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Donna Hackman

    If a person doesn't know that they are manic, then how are they supposed to get help? The are an accident waiting to happen. There needs to be involulntary committment for a period of time until the person is stable. I have talked with lawyers, police, and doctors and have been unsuccessful at getting any help. I have had my Father put in the Mental Health Hospital 3 times in the last 2 months, but the Doctor releases him before he is stable. He is a danger to himself. You have to get the Police there at the exact time they are doing something in order to get them to take them to hospital and then the Doctors release them and the same cycle keeps continuing. I need help. He has been in and out of jail and prison his whole life. He is 70 years and is manic about every 4 to 5 years. I would appreciate any help I can get.

    January 16, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Nanzt

    Thank-you for discussing mental health issues. Cnn has done a good job of bringing this issue up for discussion. It is long over due. The average person has little knowledge of brain diseases and even less info on how to deal with ill people. I think it is outrageous that he was not taken to a hospital for evaluation when he had bizarre behavior in school. Why is his exibition of symptoms treated any differently than any other medical emergency. As a society we need to realize untreated mental illness can be fatal.

    January 16, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. wal

    good... but don't give a tax cut to millionaires and say we don't have money.....

    January 16, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. Progressive Texan

    Good luck finding the resources needed to fix the mental health care systems. The private system is dominated by insurance companies, whose executives are not about to allow their huge profits to evaporate by spending money on providing more high quality services. The public system is dependent on tax dollars. In this political climate, what are the odds that we are going to divert more of those resources to improving the quality an dincreasing the availability of mental health services? According to some politicians, the American people want low taxes, limited government, and unregulated businesses. When it comes to the current status of the public and private mental health care systems in this country, your wish has been granted. I hope you are happy with the results.

    January 16, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. vic nashville tn

    Simple who want to buy gun should go through mental evaluation every year

    Armed forces do mental evaluation because they don’t want to gives the guns to crazy

    January 16, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Monster Zero

    You just gotta love these Congressional idiots...How many Americans are killed or injured by the mentally impaired each year, including the injuries and suicides they do to themselves and only when a Congresswoman gets the butt end of the psycho do they want to deal with what, legislation to spend of course. Instead of looking at pundits and vitriolic metaphors hurled across the aisle for the rage felt in America perhaps they should look at the job they have all done at leading our Nation down a wrong path that destroyed our economy and attacks our civil liberties. Look in the mirror Congress, look in the mirror!

    January 16, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. fayse

    Monster zero, these are your opinions and of course you are entitled to them however, not everyone agrees with you. The Country is on the road to recovery from what could have been a second World wide depression. Those conditions were set in motion by the previous administration. The financial meltdown was in 2008 before the election. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are entertainers who preach and or scream hateful things. This is a part of their act designed to earn big money.

    January 16, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |