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Vern Buchanan: Fund Services for Mentally Ill to Avoid Future Newtowns

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has requested the House fund health services for the mentally ill in the wake of the killings in Newtown, Conn.

Buchanan sent the following letter requesting the funding on Wednesday to President Obama and House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio:

Dear President Obama & Speaker Boehner:

In light of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I hope you will be sensitive to funding essential mental health services as part of the year-end fiscal negotiations. Preliminary reports indicate the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary was a deeply troubled young man with serious mental health issues, similar to the shooter who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. These tragic events underscore the need to refocus attention on screening and treating mentally ill people who may now be falling through the cracks..

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 20 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. suffer from some form of mental illness. A shocking 70 percent of these children go undiagnosed or receive no treatment for their affliction. Statistics show that people with untreated mental health conditions are at higher risk of engaging in criminal activity and entering the criminal justice system.

I fully recognize and support the need to reduce federal spending as we work to shrink our massive debt. But it is also clear that failing to adequately address the issue of mental illness places a heavy toll on social services, our prison system and our communities.

As one of only 47 Republicans to support the Mental Health Parity Act, I encourage both parties to work together and ensure that essential mental health programs are available for our children, families and communities. I hope you will strive to achieve the proper balance between the need to reduce spending and the funding necessary to carry out these vital mental services for all Americans.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress.

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