How can we offer help?


To the editor:

There are some more dots we’re not connecting in the aftermath of the latest school shooting in Florida, and the many others in recent years.

Experts, well-meaning commentators, senators and representatives point out the need to recognize warning signs in individuals, especially teen boys, of emotional disturbance and potential violence. We are told to alert authorities. Then presumably help will be offered, will be available, and will help to prevent these horrible massacres, and even help relieve the suffering of individuals desperate enough to perpetrate them.

As a clinical psychologist, I should welcome this message to the public. But as a psychologist, I also know more surely every day that funding for services and professionals to provide them are rapidly dwindling. Many psychologists are dropping out of insurance networks and accepting only fee-for-service patients.

The reimbursement rates from insurance companies have been shrinking for more than 20 years, and the bureaucratic roadblocks to our following good practice on behalf of our patients continue to multiply. Thus even patients with “good insurance” have a hard time locating a psychotherapist.

And for those who also need psychotropic medication, it is that much worse, because far fewer psychiatrists accept insurance, charging several hundred dollars per visit — well beyond the means of most people who need these services.

As we press our political representatives for stronger gun control, we much advocate just as strongly for the mental health and education funding essential to violence prevention.

Lynda Paull

Lynda Paull