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ANA Demands Better Access to Mental Health Services in Wake of School Massacre

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." 

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  Last Post: December 20, 2012 | View Comments(2)

I am a nurse with a specialty in Behavioral Health or Mental Health. The concept of prevention is not one that this field has been involved with as much as the medical field. The schools are a wonderful place for Mental Health nurses to work to try to deal with students who are dealing with trauma in their homes or neighborhoods. There can be a curriculum dedicated to showing students how to stay healthy and to prevent physical and mental health issues.

Susan  Evans,  RN MSNDecember 20, 2012
San Francisco, CA

I applaud the ANA for taking up the fight to obtain better availability and access to care for an individual's mental state, as well as their physical state. With recent budget cuts, destruction of facilities due to destructive storms, and other factors; delays in the care of patients with mental or emotional issues is occurring frequently. The care may not even occur as the patient feels (s)he has “nowhere to turn” and does not seek assistance.

However, I do not agree that "banning" an inanimate object should be our concern or fight. As we have seen in recent times, machetes, knives, pipe bombs, rocks, sticks… have all played a part in the death of an individual or individuals. Yet you do not see organizations attempting to ban machetes, knives, rocks, sticks, etc. I believe that taking on such a charged issue is not the responsibility of the ANA. We should place our efforts into obtaining the care our patients need.

Francis Desjardins,  Director, Nursing Practice,  Valley Regional HospitalDecember 20, 2012
Claremont, NH


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