Is Increased Mental Health Awareness the Solution to Prevent School Shootings?

There is still much debate over whether mental health issues or gun laws are the cause of recent school shootings.

BY RACHEL NARDELLO

Over the past month in Florida, a piece of legislation has been proposed and is under consideration to change certain gun laws in wake of the recent Parkland shooting. Controversially, it also designates an increase in funding for mental health awareness in schools, which has often been blamed as a cause for school shooters.

The language of the proposed bill “[requires] students to note referrals to mental health services upon initial registration for school within a school district; [and authorizes] a district school board to refer a student to certain mental health services under certain circumstances.” Not only would the bill address the need to increase funds, but also increase mental health regulations, for the prevention of a theoretical shooter.

Many pro-gun supporters are quick to argue that “the [mental health] system often prevents relatives from getting help for loved ones who have serious mental illness until after they have become a danger to themselves or others.”

However, others claim that the issue really is a gun problem. Psychiatry Online writes that “mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides.”

More specifically, high school students in Canton, Connecticut can agree on the fact that Canton High School does not promote and advocate for its mental health resources. Seniors Callahan Marsh and Taylor James both had no knowledge that Canton High provides a school psychologist, and both said they would not feel comfortable talking to her, or anyone in the guidance department for that matter.

With “mentally ill” becoming the suggested cause of more and more school shooters, students suggested that Canton High increase their funding to this department. James also suggested that the school hire more psychologists, with “students assigned to them like we assign students with guidance counselors. It should start to become the norm to meet with your psychologist, and create a strong relationship with them so that you can feel comfortable telling them personal issues.”

Guidance Counselor Mike Furey backed the idea, saying he “would be on board with increasing funding.” However, he went on to talk about how mental health for students at Canton High will only improve if the school “allows for more time for counselors to develop relationships throughout the student body,” by potentially meeting with students more often, or taking class periods periodically to provide the students with knowledge on the issue.

There is still much debate over whether mental health issues or gun laws are the cause of recent school shootings, and if Canton High School is willing to hop on board with increasing funding.