VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A local school psychologist says more work needs to be done to help those with mental health issues.

This comes a day after a massive shooting spree that killed 26 people including 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Anytime someone decides to take another person’s life, it’s usually related to a mental illness says Dr. Derek Swain.

“It’s very worrisome.  A sign of the times I think, particularly in the US where guns are much too available and also a sign that mental health issues are not the prime concern that they should be in our society.  We don’t seem to spend enough resources in taking care of the health of our people,” explains Swain.

He says both Canada and the US must stop cutting back government services.

“Some of these problems have a political basis to them.  We have so much insistence in cutting back social services and reducing taxation, etc…But the realities are that we live in a complex society.  There are costs to living in such a society, but they are financial and experiential.  We do need to re-assess how we contribute to our communities, and that means we need to spend money and look after the mental health of our population in a much better way,” argues Swain.
But it’s not just at the institutional level.  He’s also calling for a community effort.  His advice is to reach out to those struggling and watch for warning signs which may indicate a cry for help.

“Somebody who is angry and hostile, or somebody who is withdrawn, not just people who are quiet.  Somebody who has changed their behaviour and changed attitude towards others…an invitation has to be offered to young people. The door always has to be open to them so that there is a clear invitation that they are wanted, they are loved and people care for them,” says Swain.