East Texas experts disagree with Obama on linking guns, mental h - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas experts disagree with Obama on linking guns, mental health

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Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
EAST TEXAS (KTRE) -

President Obama's executive action on gun control included asking for $500 million to go towards more access to mental health care.

 "I believe most people that work in healthcare would strongly support any measure that's going to increase the efficiency of diagnosing and treating mental illness," said Burke Mental Health Program Director Michael Cunyus.

However, some mental health care professionals in East Texas don't agree with the president linking mental illness with gun violence.

"I am very concerned about that,” said Licensed Professional Counselor Dr. Debra Burton. “Just the fact that it was associated with this executive order on gun control is concerning. I mean, yes, we need more help in mental health issues, but we don't want to connect the mentally ill or mental health issues with violence. That's just not accurate."

Cunyus and Burton agreed that popular media linking the two together is creating a dangerous myth.

"The myth is perpetuated by Hollywood and the media and eve social media,” Cunyus said. “When we look at the research, we actually see that less than five percent of gun crimes are caused by people with mental illnesses.”

Both said that placing this stigma on the mentally ill will discourage those who need help from getting it. Instead, they suggest placing emphasis on how to treat mental illness without any strings attached.

"I think that if this money could be used to make more psychiatric services available to the general population, that's going to be good, not even connecting it to violence, just adequate treatment,” Burton said. “They don't need to have a stigma attached to them.”

Cunyus said any additional funding given to Burke will most likely go towards inpatient psychiatric bedding for patients that need emergency care. He said that’s where they need help funding the most.

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