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Florida shooting prompts discussion of mental health services

Wednesday's shooting in Florida prompts possible changes regarding mental health services and policies

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 9:22 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Wednesday's shooting at a high school in suburban Miami, Florida is bringing up some nationwide discussion regarding mental health services and policies.

Iowa senators recently proposed legislation to strengthen what some perceive as a weak mental health system by launching six new geographically coordinated access centers to offer short term help to patients who don't require the emergency room, as well as a 24-hour 'crisis line' to guide those who need help and obtain referrals. In a recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll, 64% of respondents say they are dissatisfied with the current system. During last month's Condition of the State address, Governor Kim Reynolds addressed the need for additional reform.

Jenna Johnson of Mason City says that while these efforts are well intended, there is more to the story beyond just mental health issues.

"There's also the aspect of the society that we live in. The fact that these adolescents with immature brains are growing up with violent media all around them. And I think that there are several different social aspects that come into play here," Johnson says.

Another topic being discussed is those with conditions accessing weapons. Florida governor Rick Scott announced intentions to make sure those who have mental health issues don't have access to weapons as soon as next week. One year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama administration regulation that banned certain individuals with mental health conditions from buying firearms unless a relief request was made after showing evidence that they did not pose a safety risk.

Even if people can get around any form of restrictions, Johnson says some change needs to be made.

"I think there needs to be more stringent laws regarding that, for their safety and the safety of others," Johnson says.

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