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NJ Bill S2828 Right Arrow, Wrong Target

Very recently New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, approved a Bill (S2828) allotting some 2 million dollars to allow several counties to enforce mental health treatment via the court system.

In other words, individuals suffering with psychosis such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder will be mandated to take medications and attend any recommended treatment or counseling to reduce the risk of rehospitaliaztion, and to lessen the possibility of violence in schools, such as the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Whereas this type of enforcement of mental health care will most definitely benefit many people and their families, it will do very little to reduce tragedies in schools, movies theaters, malls, etc..  Why?

Because there is such a lack of knowledge about mental illness among officials, the public and lawmakers, that this well-intentioned Bill is missing the population of those who are the danger to society.

The severely “psychotic” are not the people society needs to be afraid of!  These folks are easily detected, delusional, and not mentally able to plan and prepare such sick agendas that lead up to mass killings.

These are not the “mentally ill” as much as they are the socially maladjusted, afflicted with personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder, narcissism, schizoid personality disorder and the emotionally disturbed.

These are the people who literally fall through the cracks of the mental health system because they are not psychotic, but sick with feeling detached, unwanted, jealous, rejected and shunned by their peers and society.

Current commitment laws in the US maintain that an individual must pose a “danger to themselves or others”.

That means, they must demonstrate behaviors that are likely to cause themselves injury or death (suicide) or verbally threaten to cause harm or death to others.

Those with personality disorders can hide behind sanity and are well enough in touch with reality to deny such thoughts.  No thoughts or intentions, no commitment and no protection from hurting, harming or killing.

Like it or not, the research proves that exposure to violent movies, television, or video games have an extremely dangerous impact on our children.

Socially isolated kids spend hours upon hours absorbing these violent images, and while they are envious of their peers or society because they feel rejected, the ideas of mass violence and murder grow and grow.

These kids are determined to make their mark and get those that don’t accept them.  Imagine a child who played video games that taught them English, Algebra or French. Or watched movies and listened to music that promoted learning, loving others and history!  These kids would be loving geniuses!

Parents need to be on top of what their children are doing, watching and engaging in during their spare time.  

Kids do not pay rent!  Therefore, there should be no privacy concerns.  Especially if he or she is socially withdrawn, depressed, isolated or different!

Perhaps the funding for Bill S2828 would have been better spent providing specialized training for teachers, school security and parents!  These are the first and front line resources to see a problem brewing, but they need to know what to be looking for.  This is essential.

Additionally,  schools and communities need to be more focused on providing engaging activities in schools and in the communities that are meaningful and bridge the gap between the alienated and socially maladjusted.  Not all kids are sports or soccer-oriented!

Additionally, kids need to know that its okay to squeal if they know of a peer or friend that’s been demonstrating behavior that seems scary or threatening.

Every child should have a healthy combination of home, school, socialization and play.  Unfortunately, our society is not doing well in providing these needs for our kids.  They get depressed, angry, confused and resentful.

Their minds are being molded until they are in their early 20’s.  Parents must get involved with what is going on with their children.  Schools must provide a more meaningful, engaging environment for all kids, and our communities must make more of an effort to provide activities and opportunities for their socialization with other kids and people.  Perhaps the next Bill will offer funding for such assistance.

Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction counselor.  Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.