In response to the recent mass shootings, Republicans have been quick to point fingers at a variety silly trendsBlame everything from doors to video games and secularism to the father. There was even some talk about it Take responsibility for marijuana.
The rationale behind this strategy is hardly a mystery: notable GOP voices hope to divert attention away from guns, so they prepare a list of strange and increasingly less dangerous distractions.
But reviewing the Republican’s list of talking points, focusing on mental health doesn’t seem as foolish as the party’s other claims. After all, a significant number of Americans struggle with their mental health, and if GOP officials are serious about expanding access to treatment as a way to prevent potential violence, that doesn’t sound as absurd as, say, Palace school buildings on one door.
This might be a nice change of pace: Republicans have traditionally not been particularly interested in investing in expanding access to mental health services. If some tragedies prompt GOP policymakers to take a renewed interest in the issue, and interest continues, it could be a very positive development.
There are some related concerns, though.
First, some of those promoting the message are poor apostles. The day after the massacre at an elementary school in Ovaldi, for example, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the gunmen faced a “mental health challenge” and that the state needed to “do a better job on mental health.” What the Republicans neglected to mention was that just a month ago, Abbott cut $211 million From the department that oversees mental health programs in Texas.
Indeed, the 2021 State of Mental Health in America Report States ranked by general access to mental health care. Texas ranked last—a problem that the Republican governor has shown little interest in addressing in his eight years in office.
Second, the basic point itself is flawed. NBC News mentioned:
In the wake of another mass shooting, some politicians in Texas have called for increased mental health services to help prevent the next tragedy. But experts in the field caution that there is no fully effective solution to a ceasefire before it happens, with some saying that blaming mental health is a distraction from the fact that gun control is a necessary part of prevention.
For many, there is a temptation to assume that anyone who picks up an AR-15 and shoots a school—or grocery store, house of worship, movie theater, etc.—must be, in a word, “crazy.” So, the thinking goes, addressing mental health would prevent mass shootings.
But the fact remains that those who suffer from mental illness are more likely to do so victim Violence by committing acts of violence themselves. What is more, to me US Department of Health and Human Services, “Only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals with a serious mental illness.”
In fact, there are people with mental illness in every country around the world. Most of these countries do not have American-style mass shootings — not because of their focus on mental health, but because powerful weapons are not readily available.
Finally, even if we’re willing to put all these relevant details aside, The Washington Post’s Kathryn Rumble noted in her letter. last column Medicaid is the largest single payer of mental health services in the United States.
However, Republicans in 12 states – Including Texas – Continue to reject Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act.
If Abbott’s speech is honest, and he and GOP policymakers really want to “do a better job on mental health,” great. I can think of some obvious places to start.
Another possibility, of course, is that Republicans aren’t sincere on the issue, and their interest is temporary — lasting just long enough to make the party go through a few news cycles. If this is the case, then GOP officials will not take any of the above details seriously, and there will be no meaningful changes to make mental health care more accessible.
So, what will it be?