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Forum, April 22: NH underfunds prevention, treatment of mental illness

Published: 4/21/2021 10:00:04 PM
Modified: 4/21/2021 10:00:02 PM
NH underfunds prevention, treatment of mental illness

Thank you for highlighting the common thread connecting the four most recent victims of police shootings in New Hampshire, including the most recent shooting of Jeffrey Ely: mental illness (“Shooting turns eyes to mental illness: Death in Claremont prompts questions on resources for people, response from authorities,” April 11).

However, mobile response teams and police training in mental health are just Band-Aids for problems that reach across systems. Perhaps most critically, mental illness prevention and treatment is chronically underfunded at the community level. As our current president once said, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

While New Hampshire’s 2018 10-Year Mental Health Plan expanded access to mental health services, community mental health centers still struggle to retain enough providers to keep up with the demand, which has climbed steeply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, too many New Hampshire residents are on waitlists instead of sleeping in inpatient beds; the number of individuals with a mental illness who were involuntarily held in hospital emergency waiting rooms while waiting for an inpatient bed increased by 350% from 2014-18.

According to a research article in the journal Health Affairs, 10% increase in the number of behavioral health workers in a state can drop the firearm suicide rate by 1.2%.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests this investment has the potential to save 16 lives in New Hampshire over the next decade.



America should follow Australia’s lead on guns

In 1996, after a massacre in Port Arthur, Australia enacted an agreement that banned “semi-automatic self-loading and pump action longarms (meaning both rifles and shotguns) and all parts including magazines, for such firearms.”

There’s a lot more to it. The country bought back assault rifles and destroyed them. There was a mass shooting in 2002, and the law was further modified. You can check it out on the Wikipedia page (search for “gun laws of Australia”), which references studies on the impact of the National Firearms Agreement. There is considerable agreement that these policies have prevented mass public shootings and that there has been a decline in suicide by firearm.

America is having an epidemic of mass shootings: banning, buying back and destroying assault weapons would go a long way toward preventing all these unnecessary deaths, and it is one of the things that must be discussed at the highest levels.



Photograph caption and story didn’t jibe

I enjoyed reading the A Life article about Maura Naughton (“ ‘She continued to learn and to teach,’ ” April 19). She sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing.

But I was surprised to see a photograph caption mention that she “taught Gaelic,” when the article states she taught the Irish language, which she “would shudder to hear referred to as Gaelic.” It looks as if the person writing the caption didn’t take the time to read the article the photo accompanied.



Historical Society seeking Hartford’s eldest resident

The Hartford Historical Society is seeking the town of Hartford’s eldest resident for the presentation of the Hartford Cane. The ceremony will be held at a date and time of the recipient’s choosing, at either the Garipay House in Hartford Village or at the person’s residence.

Names and dates of birth may be sent to me at or phone me at 802-295-2123. Thank you for your help.



The writer is chair of the Hartford Historical Society.

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