School Shooting Highlights Mental Health Needs

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email
While many parents are wondering how something like the Connecticut school shooting could happen, others are thinking it could have been their child holding the gun.

The Michigan Capitol is shown at twilight Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009, in Lansing, Mich. Lawmakers continue work on budget bills that deal with a $2.8 billion shortfall before an Oct. 1 deadline. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

While many parents are wondering how something like the Connecticut school shooting could happen, others are thinking it could have been their child holding the gun.

One mother shared her fears in a blog post. Her words gained national attention are are now starting the conversation about mental health. Are there enough services available and how do you access them?

While few people with mental health issues turn violent, Liza Long saw the Adam Lanza, the Newtown gunman, in her child. She wrote online, "I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me."

Long called him sweet and brilliant, but also wrote about his unpredictable violent outbursts and threats of suicide.

The blog struck a chord with many parents, opening up their often hidden struggles with mental illness. More than 2,600 have commented on Long's post, many telling her she's not alone.

Here in Lansing, police say mental health should be talked about. They have the power to act if someone is a threat to others or themselves, but say in most cases family members will see trouble first.

"React on it immediately, don't let things fester, don't let things continue to the what if area," Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said. "Talk to another family member, maybe get some assistance, don't take it all on your own."

Community Mental Health is the front lines of assistance for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties.

It evaluates mental health needs and directs families to the right treatment. When police take someone into protective custody, that person goes to Community Mental Health.

But state and school funding for such services is being slashed.

"We have been systematically chipping away at the very kinds of services that we ought to be providing to families that are in stress and in need," Gilda Jacobs, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, an advocacy group for the economically vulnerable said. "This means you hae increases in domestic violence, you have increases in child abuse, you have people that just have triggers that set them off."

According to the MLPP, $50 million has been cut in the past three years and as funding plummets, collaborations between schools and mental health agencies are falling apart.

"After they cut art and gym, they cut the social workers," Jacobs explained.

Psychologists say in mental health each case is different, so it can be hard to know when to seek professional help. Still, they say unprovoked changes in behavior like not sleeping, not eating, getting in fights at school could be warning signs. Keep in mind some moodiness or anxious behavior is normal with development, they say.

Adult treatment is especially difficult for mental health workers because if a person is not willing to seek help there is little local agencies can do. They can only step in if they can prove that person is a danger to themselves or others.

Community Mental Health can be reached at (888)800-1559 or (517)649-3777 on 812 E Jolly Road in Lansing.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Cathy on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM
    Did you know that there is a mental health screen that has been medically proven to screen for depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder? WhatsMyM3 is the name of the free, anonymous screen and it only takes 3 minutes. This screen was developed by world-renowned psychiatrists and is something that patients and doctors can use together to help people with their mental health issues.This screen also gives patients a MENTAL HEALTH number so patients and their doctors can track and monitor progress. Just go to
  • by Name Location: Location on Dec 18, 2012 at 08:31 AM
    The next to the last paragraph says it all. If an adult does not want there is nothing a family member or others can do. There is not even a reporting method for 'big brother' to watch them. THe liberal ACLU and patient privacy can be tahnked for this.
  • by Courtney Location: Location on Dec 18, 2012 at 06:33 AM
    When the stigma of mental health stops, people will seek help instead of self medicating. Many don't feel safe because they will be judged, not for who they are, but because of the "mental illness diagnosis." 1 in 4 experience mental illness sometime in their life. Some more severe than others. With more and more stories that go out and the person resobonsible has a mental illness, what do you think it does for those who are simply suffering. They don't want a target on their back because of someone else's diagnosis. Think about it. Think about how Autistic children are now going to be treated by peers and schools. Besides, Autism is a developmental disability, not a mental illness. If there are mental illness components along with Autism, they should be separated out, not lumped under Autism. They will all have a watchful eye on them. Not fair to them because of this incident. It was the man who acted terrible, not the Autism. Just my thoughts.
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 183861561 -
Gray Television, Inc.