News Room

Women2Women Conversations Tour.

Sarah Chamberlain | How Congress Can Address The Mental Health Issue Of Mass Shootings

  • Super User
  • Blog

 by Sarah Chamberlain

"Image courtesy Forbes.Com

Sandy Hook, Parkland, Orlando, Virginia Beach and now the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting evoke painful memories of terrible violence and innocent deaths. Our nation reacts with memorials, discussions of access to firearms, followed by increased funding for safety measures such as armed guards, cameras and bullet proof glass at secure entrances. But far more needs to be addressed than just stopping the bullet.

Tragedies grab headlines, but hardly tell the full story. In 2017 over 47,000 died from suicide, and 70,000 from drug overdoses. Behind every grim statistic is a mental health or substance abuse disorder (MI/SUD) untreated, undertreated or never treated.

Financial and Psychological Toll

The financial toll of MI/SUD is staggering. Twenty percent of the population will experience a significant psychological problem in a year, impacting 60, million Americans, and tens of millions more family members. According to a 2016 report by the CDC nearly 4% of the adult population experienced serious psychological distress in the past 30 days, nearly 58 million physician visits, and 5.5 million ER visits were primarily for a diagnosis of MI. Additionally, the presence  of a chronic illness more than doubles the risk for a comorbid diagnosis for depression and anxiety, adding $406 billion per year according to a report by Milliman. Serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, severe depression) significantly increases the risk for chronic illness as well. 

The government’s response has only exacerbated the problem. Psychiatric hospitals were shuttered in a perfect storm of government cost cutting from one side, and patients’ rights groups from the other.“
Sarah Chamberlain

 Psychiatric Hospitalization

Psychiatric hospitalization adds an underestimated cost, mostly because there is a critical shortage of hospital beds available for treatment. The United States had 500,000 psychiatric beds in the 1950’s, and now there are only 37,000. Hundreds of thousands of the MI are homeless or fill our prisons, and the majority receive limited or no treatment.

The government’s response has only exacerbated the problem. Psychiatric hospitals were shuttered in a perfect storm of government cost cutting from one side, and patients’ rights groups from the other. 

Sarah Chamberlain is the President and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership and the founder of the Women2Women Conversations Tour.

 

Click here to read Sarah Chamberlain's entire article on Forbes.Com

"Image courtesy Forbes.Com