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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Dear celebrities and other rich people: read this.

I may be way off, but I have a hunch that V Tech faculty, students, staff, alumni, and affected others could care less about your "thoughts and prayers." Yes, Simon Cowell, this means you. You too Mr Achey Breaky heart. They don't care. And sorry, Ellen, they don't need yours either. What do they need? Cash. Cold, hard cash. Send cash to the families to pay for funerals. Send money to the university so they can create better security and notification systems. Send money to the counseling center so they can meet the needs of the students. Send money to the students who will be so traumatized that they have to take some time off, and who may be unable to work or afford therapy.

And while you're at it - spread the love (read: cash). I've a hunch the counseling center at V Tech will come under fire for not intervening, or for not doing enough. But you know what? Hardly any college counseling center could. There is a "mental health crisis" on campuses (oh, you heard about that? yeah, I know, people are too worried about this so-called "obesity epidemic"). Students are presenting at campus counseling centers with more and more severe distress and mental health issues. Counseling centers have unprecedented needs, with severely underfunded programs. Most counseling centers deal with this by setting limits on the number of sessions students can use - 6 sessions, 16 sessions, 52 sessions - some only do intakes and triage and then refer out. Most counseling centers have hugely long waiting lists, many have to turn truly needy students away, and many have to terminate with students long before it is therapeutically advisable.

Murder on campuses may be newsmaking, but suicide, suicide attempts, self-injury, and severe depression (among other severe issues) are far more frequent. Even if students want treatment (which many don't or are afraid to seek), they often cannot obtain it, or cannot obtain enough to make a difference. Therapy may not be covered by their insurance, or it may be capped or have too high of co-pays to make it accessible. Students may also be on their parents' insurance, and may be hesitant or even afraid to let their parents know they want or need therapy. Those of us in psych may only be covered to get therapy at places that are unethical (due to the fact that we work there), thus making treatment prohibitive.

You should also consider funding for mental health workers, teachers, professors on risk assessment and management. We can't always tell what is normal adolescent angst and what is a risk behavior. We mental health workers have to make these decisions all the time - it's not easy... it's a lot harder than one thinks, and involuntarily hospitalizing someone can be one of the most difficult decisions. You are in effect removing someone's civil liberties in doing so. Plus, hospitalization is no panacea -- the time after hospitalization is one of the biggest times of risk for suicide. So maybe throw some money at some mental health facilities and make them better and more helpful, and allow them to let people stay long enough to get well.

So keep your thoughts and prayers, and send cash to those of us on the front lines of some of the most difficult work there is.


At 7:46 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

yeah, i have a feeling they will come under fire, too. but to me, it sounds like everyone they did everything they had the resources to do. really.


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