How to Identify and Address Potential Mental Health Risks
In 2009, I supported Richard Aborn for District Attorney of Manhattan. I liked most of his stated policies (except the ones on gun control) and wrote about them often. Aborn lost to Richard Vance.
In the light of Jared Loughner, who while not a teenager, is still quite young, I started thinking about Richard's policies, which laid out concrete solutions that well could make a difference.
Again, I am not one of those calling for a gentler political discourse as I think the topic had little to do with Loughner's actions. I think his slide into mental impairment holds the key. The question becomes, since we know he's not the only unbalanced, unhinged, mentally impaired young person out there, how do we spot the next one and what do we do to turn him around?
This paper by Richard presents some excellent suggestions. I urge you to read it: BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE: A NEW STRATEGY FOR PREVENTING JUVENILE CRIME: [More...]
To make progress toward reducing crime and improving young people’s lives, the justice system must consider not only the mistakes young offenders have made in the past, but also what they are capable of achieving in the future – and how to help them succeed. If we do not shift course, we run the risk of continuing to push today’s young offenders into a cycle of crime that makes them tomorrow’s adult criminals. New Resources for Mental Health Care| Experts estimate that 70 percent of youths in the juvenile justice system have mental health issues. [National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice] According to the New York City Mayor’s Management Report, 83% of youths in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities required mental health services. To address the causes of many young offenders’ criminal behavior and stop them from committing further crimes, we must provide mental health treatment to those who need it. As District Attorney, Aborn will establish a pilot Youth Mental Health Clinic that will address the enormous unmet need for psychological and substance abuse treatment among young people prosecuted by the D.A, and will ensure that all youths who come through the system receive adequate and early assessment of mental health treatment needs. The clinic staff will include therapists and case managers who will treat youths with psychological needs, manage the youth’s case as it moves through the system, and make sentencing recommendations. A similar clinic in Chicago has proven to be effective at streamlining communication between courts and clinicians. [Circuit Court of Cook County]
As for what those of you with time to spare can do: Contact the similar agencies in your city and volunteer. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Ask what is needed. There are kids out there who are angry, depressed, isolated and feeling abandoned, alone and helpless. Guns don't cause these feelings, they are merely the occasional means by which they express them. Guns could be abolished, and it would be just as easy for them to make homemade bombs, grenades and whatever other weapons they can think of. Identify and treat the underlying disorder, and provide alternative and therapeutic activities and vocational skills that are geared to their interests.
Start with the premise that every child/teen/young adult deserves an equal chance to succeed, and elect local leaders who promise to provide them with the tools to make it a reality.
There is so much that could be done. And if we'd just stop throwing money down the never-ending abyss of international wars and the war on drugs, we could easily afford it.
|< Supreme Court Hears 4th Amendment "Knock Knock" Case | The Media's Continuing War On Wikileaks >|