Patt Morrison for March 1, 2011

Can we afford mental health services in schools?

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Mourners pray during Virginia Tech's Day of Remembrance honoring the 32 people killed by Cho Seung-Hui April 16, 2008 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

If trained professionals get the opportunity to diagnosis and treat children suffering from mental health issues early, when their symptoms first manifest, will it help prevent kids from self medicating or engaging in violent behavior later? Representative Grace Napolitano believes the answer to that question is yes. She has introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act which allocates $200 million for schools to provide on-site mental health services. Rep. Napolitano has implemented the program in 8 schools in her district and wants to expand the program nationwide. But the Congresswoman faces an uphill battle given the current budget crisis and the fact that Republicans in the House want to cut $200 million in mental health services. Rep. Napolitano believes that the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords may help her garner some political support for passage of the bill. The stats show these programs can help, violence levels go down and grades and attendance go up after just one year in treatment, but can we afford them?


Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-California’s 38th District; co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus

Barbara Ackermann, licensed clinical social worker, Granada Hills Charter High School

Neal McCluskey, an education analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington

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