About the Show

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

We've moved! Come join us at our new show page.

We've moved! Come join us at our new show page.

January 27th, 2014
05:55 PM ET

Congressman: When it comes to mental health, U.S. is 'acting like a third world country'

(CNN) - Far too often, a seemingly random act of violence occurs, and then a closer look finds the attackers showed signs of mental instability or extreme aggression long before the attack.

But even in instances where family members and friends attempt to get help for loved ones, their efforts aren't always enough. Such was the case with Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, who was attacked last year by his own son. After stabbing his father, Austin Deeds, took his own life. Less than 24 hours before, he had undergone a mental health evaluation and was under an emergency custody order. But he was released, because there weren't enough beds to keep him in the psychiatric unit.

What happened to Deeds is a disturbing reality for many families, and the consequences are often equally devastating.

"The biggest barriers for people getting mental health treatment is the federal and state government. We don't have enough hospital beds," said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania, who is pushing new legislation for changes in the mental health system on both the federal and state level.

Murphy says current funds and resources are misused and misplaced, and that the country lacks psychiatrists and psychologists.

The Republican congressman wants mental illness to be a standalone issue, separate from gun violence or gun control legislation.

"When we go off on other issues there - video games, guns, et cetera - we're distracting ourselves from the core issue, getting people treatment. We don't talk about that with cancer, we don't talk about that with diabetes. This is an illness. Let's treat it like an illness," said Murphy.

There was a time in the U.S., when mentally ill people were denied many of their civil rights and civil liberties, and simply locked away in institutions. But Murphy says the current state of the country's approach to mental health is not much better.

"Somewhere between 40% and 50% of people in our county jails, our state prisons, our federal prisons are mentally ill. That's the ultimate removing of their rights. We segregate them there, we end up not treating them there, and the same thing goes where we triple the homeless rate," said Murphy.

"We're acting like a third world country," said Murphy. "It is embarrassing, it is immoral, it is unethical what we have done."

U.S. laws mandate that mentally ill patients must consent to treatment.

"But how do you get somebody to consent to treatment when they don't even understand reality?" asks Murphy. "What we need are other options."

For more of our interview with Rep. Tim Murphy, check out the video above.

Posted by ,
Filed under: National Lead
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.