Wants officials to act

To the editor:

The recent school shooting has generated national outrage. Stricter gun controls, increased school security, arming teachers, and other reactive solutions have been proposed. These are reactive solutions because they are a result of what has already occurred. Proponents argue that these are proactive measures; however, proactive action examines root causes and proposes sensible, manageable preventative solutions.

One common sense solution is to examine Iowa’s mental health situation. “Mental Health Awareness” ranks states according to data that measures the prevalence of adult and youth mental illness, access to care, alcohol and illicit drug use, students identified with emotional disturbances, and 11 other measures. Iowa ranks in the bottom 10 of all states on all 15 measurements. Several other sources gave Iowa scores ranging from last to seventh lowest in the nation.

The public has an extremely powerful weapon that Iowans have failed to use. Why do we continue to elect officials who deny care to those who are most vulnerable? Why do we elect officials who ignore the agony that families with mentally ill members endure? Undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues affect everybody. Iowa’s quality of life and our safety is compromised because those we have elected refuse to provide services for children, for teens, and for adults who are struggling with mental illness and emotional issues.

No sane person commits heinous atrocities. Guns, knives, and other fatal implements are only the instruments of violence; mental illness is most often the cause. Everyone needs to be part of the solution to violence. The first step is to elect those who understand that failure to diagnose, treat and monitor those with mental health issues leads to monumental societal issues.

We are all at risk until Iowa officials stop mouthing meaningless platitudes and restore the resources that make our environments safer. Stop giving legislative power to lawmakers who refuse to address Iowa’s severe mental health crisis.

Toni Hood