It’s about time Democrats get with the program. Maybe we’ll see this happen on a national level, as the electorate increasingly demands it :
Some Democratic state lawmakers and mental health professionals are criticizing a new plan to improve school safety, which calls for sharing private mental health records with government agencies.
“I don’t think we can overreach and sacrifice patient privacy for the so-called benefit of public safety,” said Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, an advocate for health care reform.
“That line in the report scares the hell out of me,” he added. “It’s repulsive to me. Are we going to get to the point where we post on the Internet the mentally ill much like we do with sex offenders?”
The plan released Thursday came out of a three-month study by a task force of law enforcement and school safety experts convened by the National Association of Attorneys General.
It says the key to safer schools and universities is better assessing potential risks posed by people who are mentally ill. It also calls for using everything from loudspeakers to text-messaging to alert students of a dangerous situation and mandating funding for educators to update and practice emergency drills.
…Democrats, who control the legislature, said they would not support relaxing privacy laws that now limit the sharing of confidential medical records.
“I don’t want my personal medical records handed over to the government, and no one else for that matter,” said Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge. “The answer is not to penalize them, but to help treat them.”
Mental health experts said that sharing private records would further stigmatize those who suffer from mental illness. They also argued that people who suffer from mental illness are more likely to become victims of crime rather than commit one.
“Kids with psychiatric disabilities tend to be horribly bullied, and the schools often do nothing about it,” said Julie Reiskin, executive director for Colorado Cross- Disability Coalition.
Mental illness is a not predictor of who is likely to cause harm to others, said Stacey Freedenthal, a professor of social work at the University of Denver.
“The people that are more likely to cause violence are the people abusing alcohol and drugs,” she said. “People need to realize that providing the help that people with mental illness need will help a lot more than trying to predict the future.”
Rocky Mountain News via Hymes.
As a Democrat I know all too well the conflicts the party has with mental health policy. It’s why Democrats don’t fight screenings, what could go wrong? We’re the Government and we’re here to help! Democrats have to face the fact that they have their head up their ass about mental health in America, and they have to face the fact that in this instance good policy means keeping the government out of people’s lives. That’s hard for a nanny. But it is expected, and your base is watching.