Sandy Hook tragedy sparks debate on mental illness - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Sandy Hook tragedy sparks debate on mental illness

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)--Friday's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school has sparked a national dialogue on mental illness.  Many parents are wondering how to recognize the signs of a mental illness in their own children.

Dr. Susan Jenkins is a clinical psychiatrist in Rochester.  According to Jenkins, some of the main problems children face are a lack of resources and mental health professionals who can properly diagnose a child.  When children are diagnosed, many times parents don't know how to react.

"I think sometimes parents get caught up trying to make a child behave or they're really determined to try and help that child succeed," said Jenkins.  "First, just accept them for who they are--it's the acceptance and the knowing, the experience of being loved, that allows them to love in return."

According to Jenkins, many times parents take their children to be hospitalized for mental illness and there may not be enough beds due to cutbacks to healthcare facilities.

"I think we have to ask ourselves if that's child neglect.  I think it is," said Jenkins.  "If you took your child to the hospital because they had pneumonia and had to be hospitalized and you were told there were no beds, as a parent, how would you respond?"

With new light shed on our mental health industry in the wake of tragedy, now more than ever people are looking for solutions to these problems. 

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