Ari Kalechstein, Ph.D.

The tragedy of the school shooting in Texas caused many to relive the horrifying emotions associated with similar devastating events, such as the massacre in Sandy Hook. Naturally, a number of leaders of the State of Texas, such as Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz quickly and vocally attributed the behavior of the killer to mental illness. And, based on some of the recently published information about the shooter, it would seem that the shooter was experiencing significant mental health difficulties around the time that he committed those murders.

In response to the shooting, these same leaders spoke about the need for ensuring that individuals suffering from mental illness have access to adequate mental health care. As an experienced mental health professional, I agree with that general proposition. It makes sense that adequate mental health care might save lives, either for those experiencing mental illness and/or for those who are victimized as a consequence of an individual’s untreated mental illness, e.g., the adults and children who were killed in Texas.

So, if leaders such as Senator Cruz and Governor Abbott believe that more mental health care is necessary, then where is the financial support needed to provide this important mental health care? According to the article posted below, these leaders have steadily slashed the funds needed to provide adequate mental health care in the State of Texas. Hence, it seems that these leaders are merely paying lip service to the issue of mental health, which is astonishing given the degree to which people have suffered since the onset of the pandemic. Our leaders, and not just Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz, can and must do better, particularly given that the lives of our citizenry are at stake.