According to the article, Mr. Rather said the following concerning things:
- “Rather traced the crisis back to a failure of follow-through in the 1960s, after a national consensus was reached across party lines to close psychiatric hospitals in favor of community-based outpatient treatment.”
- “Rather said he believes early detection and treatment — including the easing of doctor/patient confidentiality laws that prevent families from seeking help for a loved one until it’s too late — would be one step in the right direction.”
- “We can’t eliminate mass killings, but we can curb some of the gun violence by addressing the mental health crisis.”
- “Rather said to reach a national consensus on what should be done would take a willingness for people on all sides of the political and ideological spectrum to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem and coordinate on potential solutions. He specifically cited the inclusion of the National Rifle Association in that consensus, an organization he said ‘tends to be demonized.'”
What you can do:
- Send a letter to the Herald-Tribune using this form. If you send a letter, please try to do it in the next day or so to maximize opportunities for publication. Tips on sending effective letters to the editor can be found here. You may use our talking points below, or use your own.
- Leave comment at the bottom of the Herald-Tribune article.
- Post to Dan Rather’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theDanRather
- Tweet to Dan Rather: https://twitter.com/DanRather
- Use the hashtags #realmhchange #protectpaimi and #stopmurphybill
- Links you can Tweet or share on Facebook:
Collected Statements from the Campaign for Real Change in Mental Health Policy http://bit.ly/1IVAhwZ
“Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms” by Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD, and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD http://bit.ly/1y5qbJl
“Paul Ryan blames mass shootings on mental health laws” by David Perry http://bit.ly/1Ncb5pT
“Mental illness: an easy scapegoat for those who won’t point fingers elsewhere” by Ari Ne’eman http://bit.ly/1QXtwSV
- We should not blame de-institutionalization for the current state of affairs. The reason for today’s broken system is that states haven’t fully funded — and continue to underfund — community-based services that can prevent homelessness, institutionalization, and incarceration. According to a recent NAMI report, “funding for mental health services fell in more states than it grew. This is the third year in a row the number of states willing to increase spending on mental health shrank.”
- Regarding health privacy, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is clear that information can be shared with caregivers in case of an emergency. Providers need to be better educated as to how HIPAA works. We do not need to change the law. Weakening HIPAA privacy protections will scare people away from seeking help. We should not support health privacy discrimination against people with mental health issues.
- Reforming the mental health system will not “curb gun violence.” The research is clear that people with mental health conditions are not responsible for the vast majority of gun violence in our nation. Only 3-5% of violent acts in America can be traced to a person with a psychiatric diagnosis. In fact, they are 11 times more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. The known risks for gun violence include: access to guns, substance use, poverty, and a history of violence. For more information, see this excellent review of the evidence.
- Given that mental health conditions are not a significant risk factor for gun violence, reform of the mental health system should be discussed separately from gun reform. Therefore, the NRA is not a relevant partner for discussion on mental health reform. To reach consensus, we should include the perspectives of people with mental health issues themselves, who are often left out of the discussion on national policy matters.