Conn.'s U.S. Senators, Experts Talk Mental Health After Report On Newtown Shooter

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Alice Forrester of Clifford Beers, Sen. Chris Murphy, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Credit Davis Dunavin / WSHU

Connecticut's U.S. Senators met with some of the state's mental health experts on Monday to talk about problems with mental health treatment — and potential solutions. The meeting came three days after the release of a state report, which found a series of missed opportunities in the treatment of the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza.

The report suggested a lack of communication among Lanza's parents, educators, and mental health professionals. Senator Chris Murphy said it was evidence of a fragmented system of treatment.

"The Lanza report is damning in the sense that it tells us what we already know," he said. "That our mental health system is totally siloed, where you have school psychologists not communicating to primary care physicians not communicating to our community mental health system."

Senators Murphy and Richard Blumenthal heard from psychiatrists, community organizers, and others involved in mental health. They said what’s needed is better coordination between parents, educators, psychiatrists and other medical professionals.

"People are always going to fall through the cracks," said Kristie Barber, executive director of a state regional mental health board. "I don't think we'll ever have a system where every single person will be able to get what they need."

But she says better laws could mean more integrated care. That doesn't just mean better communication between parents, doctors and schools. "If it's a child that's not always happy, how do you integrate them into your community, into your system, without shunning people?" she said. "We shun people way too much in this society." The state report from last week recommended more mental health training for school staff and universal mental health screenings for those under 21.