I am a retired school counselor from St. Louis County’s Rockwood School District. In the wake of the horrible mass murders in Texas and Ohio, I have thought deeply about possible solutions for gun violence in our country. I support sensible gun control legislation, but I would like to address mental health services for the troubled shooters. I agree that these shooters may be mentally ill, but I get angry when I hear the president and others cite mental illness as the cause of the problem, but they propose no ideas to provide better mental health services for the perpetrators.
As a school counselor, I encountered many young people (sadly, mostly young men) who showed signs of mental illness and perhaps potential for violence toward themselves or others. I made every effort to help them and their families access mental health resources that could prevent problems and help them heal. However, if government and school district leaders want to improve the mental health of individuals, their care must become a priority. Many more school and community mental health services must become easily accessible.
I understand that Rockwood has added more counselors, social workers and social-emotional behavioral therapists. I applaud this. But this is a very recent change, made in response to rising rates of violence. From 2009-2019, Rockwood cut the budget for counselors, and staff decreased. This, despite school counselors’ entreaties to realize the error of this decision. If mental health is the problem, put your money where your mouth is.
Cathy Marek • Chesterfield