Local psychologist reflects on mental health dilemma - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local psychologist reflects on mental health dilemma

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- We may never know what caused the shooter to enter Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and open fire, but some of the discussion across this country has begun to center around this question; how do we make sure this never happens again?

Building awareness and access to mental health services could be part of the answer.

"One of the most difficult things to get access to is competent mental health care when you need it," points out Columbia University's Dr. Irwin Redletter.

The shooting is sparking discussions across the country.  The tragedy has renewed debates about gun control and it's also turned the focus on mental health services.

"People start assigning all sorts of causes.  What caused this to happen?  We don't know," relents Dr. Brian Stress, a clinical psychologist in Eau Claire.

Stress is an expert on mental health disorders.  He's seen many first hand.

"I've worked in prisons," Stress remembers.  "There are people who do not have a conscience.  They can do something this horrific; injure or possible kill somebody, they don't lost any sleep over it; they don't feel bad."

He's written a book on how parents can recognize certain indicators in their children, including depression or changes in behavior.  He says behavior is linked to both the way you are raised and genetics.

"If one or both of the parents are really aggressive, there's a higher probability, it's not guaranteed, but there's a higher probability they are going to produce an aggressive child," Stress explains.

He says it's also important address mental health early on.

"It's a lot easier to control a four year old than a 15 year old," says Stress.

That way, parents can reach kids while they are still developing: making it easier to change certain behaviors.  He says if you or someone you know needs help, have them talk with a trained professional.

"There is a stigma attached that you have a problem enough to see somebody," explains Redletter.  "We have to get over this stigma."

Stress says parents who are worried about their children can contact a school counselor, family doctor or insurance company for help.  He says most insurance companies have a list of providers that work directly with troubled adolescents.

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