Crowdsourcing a Mental Health Policy

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The tragedy in Newtown has raised questions about the state of mental health treatment in the U.S., especially among children. How should our mental health policy change?

This morning on the Brian Lehrer ShowNadine Kaslow, psychologist, professor and vice chair at Emory University, and president-elect designate of the American Psychological Association, and Steve Coe, CEO of Community Access, Inc., explained the difficulty in treating mental illness in children, and what changes to policy could make it easier.

We asked for your thoughts about how we should change the way we deal with mental illness in this country. Here's some of the highlights of what you told us:

On Facebook, Bonnie says: "Brian, I wish someone would address the fact that these horrible killings are the work of men/boys... Should we be looking at the way our male children are raised, who their role models are, what they are filling their heads with...?"

Calling into the Brian Lehrer Show, Candida says: "I think that we have to be looking at much bigger and broader developmental and mental health support in schools stating very young. I work with a lot of preschoolers who have problems with regulating themselves"

Carol adds that keeping those who need it under care is a challenge: "When there’s a permanent disability, there’s nothing that is mandated for that person to stay in treatment—to get any treatment. They can refuse treatment, yet they’re getting government money because they can’t function in society."

On Twitter, Ina suggests we look for more clues as to what affects early childhood experience can have on the brain.

From our online comments, Amy from Manhattan says: "How can we work to destigmatize mental illnesses? If people weren't ashamed to have a mental illness or to have a mentally ill family member, they'd be more likely to feel that's it's OK to look for help"

Mark draws comparisons between the U.S. and Cuba, where he says he toured mental health facilities as part of a delegation of nurses: "The mentally ill appear to be more included in Cuban society. I think that much of the inclusion and more humane treatment that we observed is a phenomenon of Cuban culture and the influence of the extended family and community there. Unfortunately, we concluded that this was a foundation of humane treatment that could not be imported into the United States without major societal changes."

Rivka, who describes herself as a clinical social worker, says: "A 'diagnosis' of Asperger's or ADHD or intermittent explosive disorder can't be used to explain away the violence. What parents, schools, even school mental health personnel often don't either notice or understand are the deeper feelings within the troubled individual."