Several Illinois politicians have used the shooting in Newtown Connecticut, to call for tougher gun laws. But even though it's been reported the shooter had mental health problems, politicians have not made THAT issue a priority. The day of the shooting, Governor Pat Quinn issued a statement saying he'd pass laws to protect people from gun violence. Over the weekend, Senator Dick Durbin called for renewing the assault weapons ban, but Christopher Larrison says the conversation shouldn't end there:
"It can't be just about gun control. It's got to be: the mental health system is broken in this county, and I don't think we fully recognize how broken it is."
Larrison is a professor in the school of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He says the problem is not the two mental hospitals the state closed this year. Rather, it's that Illinois' community mental health centers are underfunded, and can only reach one in five people who need help:
"If you showed up looking for services today, and you had somebody we could all agree needed services, they'd still have to wait. In some places a fairly substantial wait."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says between 2008 and this year, Illinois cut its mental health budget by more than 30 percent.
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