A closer look at mental illness in wake of CT Shooting - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

A closer look at mental illness in wake of CT Shooting

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As people around the world mourn the Connecticut Massacre, many are asking how we can keep something like this from happening again?

After any mass shooting, many talk gun control, but now another topic is also part of the discussion; mental illness.

We may never know exactly what made suspected shooter, Adam Lanza open fire on a classroom full of six and seven year olds.

But in the wake of Friday's tragic shooting, many people want to take a closer look at treating mental illness.

"It's sad that we're using our prison system for patients who need mental help and just to lock them away seems like a sad way to deal with the problem," says South Bend resident Amber Hipskind.

But is there help available? Psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Lin says fewer and fewer people are graduating from psychiatry programs every year.

"Psychiatry is already envisioning a shortage ahead, if not now, and child psychiatrists, there definitely is a shortage," says Lin.

She says the funding cuts she's witnessed over her 15 years of practice, aren't helping either.

"There have been fewer and fewer resources unfortunately. There are fewer hospital beds, definitely fewer state hospital beds," says Lin.

Lin says more funding would help, but only if the money is put where it's most needed.
She hopes experts in the field are asked for input as the country looks to make a change.

"Just staff across the board really: nurses, social workers. I think educating the general public in terms of what the resources are," says Lin.

Lin also says resources for patient follow-ups are a must.

She says since there's such a shortage of psychiatrists, sometimes follow-ups take two to three months, and for serious patients, it just doesn't cut it.

The National Alliance of Mental Illness or (NAMI) of St. Joseph County has free courses available for parents, grandparents, educators and caregivers of a child or adolescent who has an emotional disorder or a mental illness.

To register, visit www.namisjc.org

You can also call 574-259-3564 and leave a message.

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