Recognizing mental healthcare needs - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Recognizing mental healthcare needs

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The mug shot of Tucson's triggerman, Jared Loughner has been described as disturbing and chilling. It has raised questions of his mental state - his past and recent behavior probed and displayed by the media for all to see.

Richmond psychologist, Dr. Alan Entin says all the political talk about the shooter targeting congresswoman Giffords misses the point.

"It's not about what I would consider the real issue, which is mental health," said Entin.

Entin says, Loughner needed mental help - as did the Virginia Tech shooter, the Columbine shooters, and many others in Virginia who are mentally unstable. The issue is, usually when a problem is recognized, it's too late.

"Unless the person is a danger to themselves or others we can't force it upon them," said Entin.

While some may need to be forced into getting mental help others are fighting to get it.

At a state budget hearing at John Tyler Community College last week, money for mental health programs was the hottest topic.

"We're not getting enough, it's always at the bottom of the barrel," Entin said.

Entin says more money is needed to help three basic needs - diagnosis, early intervention, and treatment.

The hard part has been convincing lawmakers there's never a quick fix.

"This is not a one shot effort like a vaccination this is a continuous, continuous project," he said.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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