Arizona has one of the worst ratios of students to school counselors in the nation. Concerns that a lack of intervention sparks potential gun violence led high school students in the state to make mental health concerns the focus of an anti-gun legislation move.
March for Our Lives Arizona, a movement led by teenagers, called for reforms earlier this year. It has over 65 clubs in schools across the state as well as seven regional groups, and members in every single congressional district.
The teens brought a bill to the state capitol in February, reported The Nation. The legislation called for school districts to be required to draw up school-safety plans.
The plans would outline how each school would help students facing mental-health crises. The legislation would require schools to develop partnerships with agencies and outside community organizations. Students wanted partnerships to allow them to be referred for help when counselors cannot provide long-term care.
The legislation ended up stuck in the House Rules Committee. The students pledged to keep pressing for mental health reforms in schools.
Jordan Harb and Emma Rowland, members of March for Our Lives Arizona who wrote the article, said the students would keep pressing for change a year after 17 staff and students were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They wrote:
“The mental-health crisis cannot be solved with one bill. But it is a step in the right direction, and we will keep fighting for better support in schools, because ignoring students’ mental health is a threat to school safety. We showed that when we introduced our bill on February 6, that we have a voice.”
Shootings at Virginia Tech and Aurora in Colorado were carried out by mentally disturbed people. However, the connection between mental illness and gun violence is tenuous, according to some studies.
James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, reached out for psychiatric help before the shooting. Court-appointed psychiatrists said he was mentally ill. He was not successful in claiming an insanity defense in his murder trial. The psychiatrists told the court he was mentally ill but not insane.
People often wrongly assume mentally ill people are likely to be violent. If you or a mentally ill family has been arrested, please call attorney Bernardo Garcia at (602) 340-1999.