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How tying gun restrictions to mental health has failed

A new study suggests that regulators' attempt to predict which people are likely to use a gun to cause harm needs fine-tuning.

The Washington Post: The Problem With Trying To Solve Gun Violence By Going After The Mentally Ill

In the wake of a mass shooting, a furious political debate inevitably erupts: Does gun violence stem from mental-health issues or from easy access to firearms? A policy solution that attempts to skirt the contentious divide is to make it harder for people with a history of mental illness to own a gun. A new Health Affairs study followed 81,704 adults with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression who were receiving treatment through the public behavioral health systems in two Florida counties to measure the effectiveness of such policies. About 12.8 percent were restricted from purchasing a firearm for mental-health reasons. Federal and state laws prohibit people from obtaining guns if they have been committed for mental-health treatment involuntarily, found not guilty of a crime due to insanity, been found incompetent to stand trial, or deemed mentally unable to manage their affairs. (Johnson, 6/7)

Health News Florida: Study: Restricting Gun Access For Mentally Ill Would Reduce Suicide, Not Homicide

Keeping guns away from those with serious mental illness could help reduce gun suicides. That’s according to a new study out this week in the Health Affairs journal that looked at more than 81,000 adults in Florida with serious mental illness. Researchers got data on residents in Tampa and Miami with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression who received care in a publicly-funded health care setting; that data was married with court records and health records. (Aboraya, 6/7)

In other news about mental health, the House is set to mark up major legislation next week and long wait lists for beds at hospitals are putting pressure on jails and other state resources:

The Hill: Overnight Healthcare: House Mental Health Bill Finally Moving Forward

The House Energy and Commerce committee will mark up a major mental health reform bill next Wednesday, a significant step forward for the long-delayed legislation... Democrats are now signaling that they could support the new bill after a number of changes. (Sullivan and Ferris, 6/7)

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The Washington Post: Mental-Health Crisis Ensnares Inmates, Judges, Jailers And Hospitals

Just before 6 p.m., a prison transport van pulled up to a state mental hospital in central Maryland. Inside were two deputies and James Geeter, a 77-year-old man arrested for trespassing at a library in Prince George’s County — and so mentally incompetent that a judge ordered treatment before he could face the charges. Four hospital staffers, including the clinical director, met the deputies at the door that night last month and turned them away. The psychiatric facility was full. The deputies and their prisoner returned to the county’s jail, where Geeter took a spot on a list of 84 inmates throughout Maryland waiting to get into one of the state’s five forensic hospitals — including some inmates charged with violent felonies. The crisis at Maryland’s mental hospitals is playing out nationwide, putting pressure on jails and testing the patience of judges. (Morse, 6/7)

New Hampshire Public Radio: Changes in Mental Health Care Landscape Could Further Stress Vermont's System

Finding the capacity to care for acute mental health cases in Vermont has been a challenge in recent years, especially since Tropical Storm Irene shut down the state mental hospital. (Keefe 6/7)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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