Sandy Hook shooting prompts mental health discussion - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Sandy Hook shooting prompts mental health discussion

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Andrea Medeiros

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is drawing attention to mental illness. Some parents, who also have sons and daughters needing medical care, say they are having trouble getting it.

The shooting rampage in Connecticut hits close to home for Abby Stein of Barrington. The shooter has been linked to the syndrome her 12 year old son has, Asperger's. She's worried about the stigma that goes along with that.

"You can't blame a child who has Asperger's or Autism and say they're going to grow up and be a person who massacres little children."

Even more concerning for Stein, who is also a psychotherapist, is the lack of treatment options for mental illness.

"Kids like my son can fall through the cracks, even though he's a little quirky and different than other kids, he's not profound enough to stick out where people will say wow this kid really needs help," said Stein.

After jumping through a lot of hoops, Stein's son was finally diagnosed at eight years old, but she says a lot of parents give up. They can't afford tests, which aren't typically covered by insurance.

"You can't just say my child is violent, my child is angry, I'm afraid he might hurt me. They're going to look back and say well have you taken him to a doctor, what do the teachers say about him," said Stein.

Community advocate and psychologist Paul Block says it's a broken system, where mental health patients are treated differently than medical patients and co–pays are more expensive.

"You don't get an annual checkup in mental health," said Block, "You have to have an identified concern then you have to go pay a co-pay and co-pays make people even less likely to use mental health services that they need."

Mental health professionals tell us sometimes the only way to raise a red flag and get your child treatment is if he or she commits a crime.


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