In reference to Deborah Peel's letter, while I will agree that changes to our privacy rules and laws will not prevent mass murders in the future, I disagree with some of her perspectives on what our current privacy system really accomplishes. The privacy rules are not really aimed at getting people healed. The rules are about protecting pride or job security, and making certain no one knows we are imperfect. Well, all of us are imperfect.
Sharing of mental health information with who ever is paying for it, or responsible for its payment (parents in this case), is important. They should know the details and how they can help or aid in the family member's healing. They have a vested interestmonetarily and emotionally (even if they are part of the problem).
More importantly, a family's support and observations are critical for tracking an individual member's progress and also for giving the individual loving support. Maybe the focus should be on teaching families how to be the support for one another and how to handle situations where family members are not well. This would force a lot of other healing to begin to occur. A family's love and support does more than what a paid professional's advice does alone. The professionals or system cannot make up for what is lacking in that individual's life.
In the Virginia Tech situation, it appears that the family was willing to be there for that young man. They just did not have the tools to deal with it correctly or the information. Of course the system failed here. We are putting responsibilities on outside sources that don't have all the facts, nor care for the individual like a family does or should. When it comes to healthcare, we are our own best advocates. That cannot be replaced with laws or regulation. If an individual cannot advocate for themselves, they must enlist their family or a trusted friend to advocate for them. The system is just too distant from an individual's emotional needs and is overburdened with social responsibilities that they often cannot meet.
I am not so naïve that I do not understand that my suggestion requires the whole family to work on "their issues." But they have to! With moral and spiritual values of this country deteriorating, our families are being destroyed, which accentuates the problems we are experiencing in society. Privacy rules have not improved our healthcare system or the quality of care one receives. Our concerns about privacy are very misguided and are hurting us more than helping.
Deb MatzAppleton, Wis.To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.