In the wake of the Newtown massacre, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is calling on President Obama, Congress and policymakers at the state and local level "to take swift action to address factors that together will help prevent more senseless acts of violence."
"Like the rest of the nation, America's nurses are heartbroken as we grieve the unthinkable loss and profound tragedy that unfolded last week in Newtown. This horrific event is a tipping point and serves as a call to action," ANA President, Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, said in a prepared statement.
"Our country has witnessed unspeakable acts of mass shootings," Daley continued. "The common thread in each of these tragedies has been the lethal combination of easy access to guns and inadequate access to mental health services."
Specifically, ANA is calling on policymakers to:
- Restore access to mental health services for individuals and families.
- Increase students' access to nurses and mental health professionals from the elementary school level through college.
- Ban assault weapons and enact other meaningful gun control reforms to protect society.
As the largest single group of healthcare professionals, registered nurses witness firsthand the devastation from the injuries sustained from gun violence. Nurses also witness the trauma of individuals, families, and communities impacted by violence.
Meanwhile, ANA notes, over the past decade cutbacks within schools and community healthcare systems have seriously impeded student access to school nurses and mental health professionals trained to recognize and intervene early with those who are at-risk for violent behavior.
"The public mental health system has sustained a period of devastating cuts over time," continues an ANA press release announcing the call to action. These cuts have been exacerbated during the Great Recession despite an increase in the demand for services for all populations, including our nation's veterans. States have cut vital services, such as community and hospital-based psychiatric care, housing, and access to medications. Looming budget cuts could lead to further cuts in services."