In view of the massacre that took place last week at the Virginia Tech Many people including law makers university officials are asking the congressmen to formulate some measures to avert this kind of a disaster. Some kind of program, to identify and treat the mentally ill, before they harm themselves and the others. A law that would permit the university to inform the students parents without the fear of infringing the privacy laws if that students shows symptoms of committing suicide, homicide or even any kind of mental illness.
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 allow access to records in case of an emergency or to protect the health of a student. Parents also can be informed with the student's consent.
Republican Rep. Tim Murphy opines that the earlier law is too indistinct. According to him 'There are many examples where information was not released to parents or guardians regarding a student's mental health, which led to miscommunications and withholding of vital information that would have prevented suicides, assaults and other crimes'
Much funding is needed to train the faculty to identify the mental illness and accord appropriate treatment facility for them. Russ Federman, director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Virginia, says that 'New funding for student outreach, education and prevention is absolutely necessary, 'We cannot remain in our offices providing outpatient treatment. We must join the academic community in teaching students about healthy lifestyles which are truly the strongest protective factors against depression and other mental illnesses.'
The drug therapy is used to treat the mentally ill. In some cases these are reported to the court, but the court can refuse to commit the person. As was the case with Seung-Hui Cho. We cannot do away with unforeseen events from life. We cannot turn universities into virtual prisons. But things can be done to prevent the incidents. The Buckley Amendment can be repealed. The gravely mentally ill should be confined without needing ironclad confirmation that they can cause immediate danger. The sale of fire arms should be restricted to criminals and mentally ill.
Many schools like the Michigan school are trying to make an effort to reach out to disturbed children through counseling centre within their campus health program. Many school campuses are reviewing their mental health program. We've got to put more effort into counseling and preventing depression,' said Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan, which represents the state's 15 public universities. 'It's not about responding afterward. For troubled students, whether they're reaching out or not, we have to find a way to help them.'
'Colleges all have health services that are supposed to be there to assist their students, but do they have the right kinds of programs?' said Mark Reinstein, president of the Mental Health Association in Michigan. 'They need to make sure they're doing enough when it comes to counseling and psychological services for these students who are often under a great deal of pressure and don't know where to turn.'