Obama calls for changes to mental health care; Texoma providers react

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SHERMAN, TX -- As part of his gun control proposal, President Obama also announced his plan to improve the country's mental health care.

Local mental health care providers say lack of funding, large demand and lack of public education are just a few of the problems with our country's mental health care.

President Obama announced ten different executive actions he is planning to take to improve mental health care. Locally, medical professionals say this is a step in the right direction.

"If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try," President Obama said.

Mister Obama is calling on Congress for more funding. He wants $50 million to train 5,000 mental health professionals to work with young people in communities and schools. $15 million to train teachers and other adults to detect and respond to mental illness in children and adolescents. And another $40 million to help school districts and other community institutions make sure young people get help they need.

"Having teachers, especially, who would know about all mental health issues that could identify when a child or adolescent is having trouble and what symptoms to look for would be very helpful," Sylvia Cave said.

Sylvia Cave is the Director for Mental Health Services at Texoma Community Center. She says less than one percent of mental health patients are violent. But right now, her agency doesn't have the resources to treat the patients who are most likely to become violent.

"Funding for those services at your state and federal level have done nothing but decrease over the years," Sue Daley said.

Texas Health Presbyterian WNJ Behavioral Health Services Director, Sue Daley, says funding isn't the only problem.Since HIPAA was enacted, many healthcare providers are unsure about when they can report violent behaviors to law enforcement. Now, the President says he'll clarify those regulations.

"I was happy to read that Obama is going to re-approve the "duty to warn" clause and encourage health care providers to report when they have patients that are a homicide risk, " she said.

Daley says the President's proposed changes to the broken system are a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to preventing gun violence and keeping our community safe.

"I think mental health issues are just part of being human and it's amazing to me that we've ignored that important part of ourselves for that long," she said.

President Obama will issue a presidential memorandum directing the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence, and he said he will finalize regulations on equal insurance coverage for mental health.

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