First glimpse of mental health reform

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Some residents say lost in all the talk about guns and ammunition is a good hard look at mental health treatment in our state and across the country.

There is a provision in the new gun law propsal that will make it more difficult for mentally ill patients to get a gun but that really only scratches the surface.

The first glimpse of mental health reform appears in the new proposed gun control laws and it deals with people who are committed to psychiatric hospitals.

For involuntary committals, under current law, an individual who has been involuntarily committed to such a hospital within the previous 12 months can neither possess a firearm nor receive a permit or eligibility certificate. The bill expands that look back period to 60 months.

The current law does not address voluntary admissions. Under the bill, an individual who has been so admitted will not be able to receive a permit or eligibility certificate for 6 months thereafter, nor will they be eligible to possess any firearm for those 6 months.

"Reporting of individuals who have been voluntarily hospitalized, I think are actually quite controversial. It would be very unfortunate if an unintented consequence was that people avoided coming into care out of fear," said Dr. Harold Schwartz.

Dr. Schwartz sits on the governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. He says guns and school safety were the first priority and now the commission will take on mental health.

"We're just starting our work on mental health now with the hope that some of our recommendations can still make it into legislation in this legislative season," said Dr. Schwartz.

"Substance abuse services is another thing that sometimes gets left out of the mental health picture," said Dr. Surito Rao.

Dr. Rao from Saint Francis Hospital said mental health is extremely complex and that includes the addiction problems.

"They would never do violent crimes if they weren't drinking, if they weren't using cocaine or PCP," said Dr. Rao.

Copyright 2014 WTNH TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state. Connecticut is the 5th of the original thirteen United States.
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