Charleston Shootings Show We’re Still Reeling From Reagan’s Cruel Mental Health Cuts

It’s not an official news day in America without there being a massive shooting or an abuse of police power. And we were enjoying Donald Trump’s fake presidential run so much, too. The formula following a major gun shooting goes like this: the left tries to get some sensible gun laws enforced, the right sees anything said by President Obama as an attempt to steal their guns and bibles, and the NRA makes a sh*t load of money via fundraising. Rinse and repeat.

And while some rightfully point to mental health as a major factor, nothing is ever done, and we go about our day and binge watch TV shows on Netflix. But regarding Dylann Roof, mental illness doesn’t seem to be a factor. Unless you consider White Supremacy a mental disorder that comes with a pill. But the fact remains that mental health care saw the beginning  of the end under the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Although President Ronald Reagan walks on water for many Republicans and there’s not enough buildings to name after him, the fact remains that he was a pretty terrible human being. We all know about his complete and utter lack of combating AIDS, but we may not know much about his utter contempt for mental health. It’s Odd considering how freaking insane his party has become.

One month before President Carter’s massive election defeat, Carter had signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which had proposed to continue the federal community mental health centers program. With President Reagan and the Republicans taking over, the Mental Health Systems Act was discarded faster than the solar panels on the White House roof.

Moreover, the CMHC funds were simply block granted to the states. The CMHC program had not only died but been buried as well. President Reagan essentially relaxed the mental health laws that used to protect us in order to save money. Ironically enough, Reagan personally experienced the consequences  of untreated mental illness through the two sons of Roy Miller, his personal tax adviser. Miller’s sons developed schizophrenia; one committed suicide in 1981, and the other killed his mother in 1983. And yet Reagan never exhibited any interest in the need for research or better treatment for serious mental illness. Maybe Rocky IV was in theaters or something.

Via Salon:

The 1980s witnessed increasing episodes of violence, including homicides, committed by mentally ill individuals who were not receiving treatment. The decade began ominously with three high-profile shootings between March 1980 and March 1981. Former congressman Allard Lowenstein was killed by Dennis Sweeney, John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, and President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. All three perpetrators had untreated schizophrenia. Sweeney, for example, believed that Lowenstein, his former mentor, had implanted a transmitter in his teeth through which he was sending harassing voices.As the decade progressed, such widely publicized homicides became more common:

1985: Sylvia Seegrist, diagnosed with schizophrenia and with 12 past hospitalizations, killed three and wounded seven in a Pennsylvania shopping mall.
Bryan Stanley, diagnosed with schizophrenia and with seven past hospitalizations, killed a priest and two others in a Wisconsin Catholic church.
Lois Lang, diagnosed with schizophrenia and discharged from a mental hospital 3 months earlier, killed the chairman of a foreign exchange firm and his receptionist in New York.
1986: Juan Gonzalez, diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychiatrically evaluated 4 days earlier, killed two and injured nine others with a sword on New York’s Staten Island Ferry.
1987: David Hassan, discharged 2 days earlier from a mental hospital, killed four people by running them over with his car in California.
1988: Laurie Dann, who was known to both the police and FBI because of her threatening and psychotic behavior, killed a boy and injured five of his classmates in an Illinois elementary school.
Dorothy Montalvo, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was accused of murdering at least seven elderly individuals and burying them in her backyard in California.
Aaron Lindh, known to be mentally ill and threatening, killed the Dane County coroner in Madison, Wisconsin. This was one of six incidents in that county during 1988 “involving mentally ill individuals . . . [that] resulted in four homicides, three suicides, seven victims wounded by gunshots, and one victim mauled by a polar bear” when a mentally ill man climbed into its pen at the local zoo.
1989: Joseph Wesbecker, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, killed 7 and wounded 13 at a printing plant in Kentucky.

Despite Vice President Joe Biden’s massive attention to mental health, including allocating millions toward mental health services, as well as mental health guaranteed under Obamacare, but state-by-state parities (meaning, right-wing governors and a-holes not wanting to side with the President on anything) and gaps in coverage are still very prevalent.

In short, this is just another lovely gift that was bestowed to us by the almighty Ronald Reagan.

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michael hayne headshotedited111 Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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