KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Post-Newtown Shooting, Conn. Dives Deep Into Examining Mental Health System

A legislative task force has been reviewing ways to prevent violence, improve school safety and study psychiatric commitment laws.

The Associated Press: After School Shooting, Conn. Debates Mental Health
Connecticut lawmakers on Tuesday began reviewing mental health care following the deadly Newtown school shooting, even though they and the public have little insight into the mental state of the 20-year-old gunman. The prosecutor in the case, Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, said he cannot release information about Adam Lanza's mental health because of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which covers all attorneys in the state (Haigh and Collins, 1/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Conn. Ponders Mental Health
Even without additional insight into Mr. Lanza, who committed suicide, Connecticut is moving toward sweeping changes that could include everything from forcing private insurers to offer more mental-health coverage to screening every child in school statewide for emotional or psychological problems (De Avila, 1/29).

USA Today: Mental Health Experts Talk About Systemic Issues
In the third of four hearings scheduled by a legislative task force formed to prevent gun violence and improve school safety in the wake of December's Newtown school shooting massacre, Patricia Rehmer, commissioner of the state's Department of Mental Health Services, said risk assessments of mental-health patients are difficult and cannot be done with complete accuracy (Stoller, 1/29).

WBUR: Conn. Debates Mandatory Outpatients Treatment For Mentally Ill (Audio)
It is not known if Newtown shooter Adam Lanza had any diagnosed mental illness, but a family friend has said Lanza's mother was in the process of having her son committed to a psychiatric hospital just before he went on his shooting spree. Connecticut lawmakers are now debating whether to join most other states in passing what's called "outpatient commitment," which would mandate court-ordered treatment for people with serious mental illness who are not in the hospital. It's outraged some mental health advocates, who say people with mental illness should make their own decisions (1/29).

In related news --

Kansas Health Institute: Family Shares Experience Of Mental Health System
It was a situation that could have produced another tragic headline about a mentally ill person who slipped through the cracks. Instead it became a success story. Three weeks ago, Jace Bemis’s friends knew something wasn’t right. He wasn’t his happy-go-lucky self. He seemed sad, depressed (Ranney, 1/29).

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