How I Know That Psychiatric Hospitals Don’t Cure Gun Violence


In this piece for the Hartford Courant, Kathleen Flaherty describes why President Trump’s assertion that more psychiatric hospitals would prevent mass shootings is inaccurate and prejudiced.

“Psychiatric hospitals are facilities where people who are there, in theory, to get help for a medical condition are subject to violence and trauma — in the form of involuntary medication, restraint and seclusion, disrespectful treatment, and, in the most egregious cases, physical abuse. People remain unnecessarily institutionalized and segregated — in violation of their civil rights — because community based services and supports are inadequately funded.

More hospital beds are not the answer. It is a facile and easy solution to label the gun violence problem as mental illness. It is simplistic to say let’s put people with mental health conditions on a list so they will not be able to (legally) buy a gun. The criteria proposed by the Obama administration, recently rescinded by this administration, included people who receive Social Security disability benefits for a mental health condition and have a representative payee. While that may be administratively easy (this list can be generated with a search of the Social Security database), it would be ineffective in preventing future gun violence.”