Psychologist: Mental Health Services Key to Violence Prevention - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Psychologist: Improving Mental Health Services Key to Violence Prevention

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A University of Virginia professor says guns cannot be the only real discussion point coming out of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.  

He says just as much, if not more, of the conversation needs to be about mental health issues, and getting help for troubled people. 

UVA psychologist Dewey Cornell says we should think about the shooting not as a school shooting, but as a shooting that happened in a school, and that mindset will help our society address the problems that had been building up long before this tragedy occurred.

Cornell teamed up with other youth violence and school safety experts to release a statement Wednesday on preventing violence in schools. They say the Newtown, Connecticut shooting does not mean that schools are unsafe. Rather, schools are among the safest places for children. The key here is mental health. Cornell and his colleagues say improving mental health services will prevent gun violence.

"Real prevention has to begin before there's a gunman in your parking lot. There's been too much attention to what do in an active shooter situation, and not enough attention on what to do with individuals who are troubled and in need of help long before they come to the parking lot with a gun," said Cornell.

Cornell says mental health services have wasted away due to funding cuts and lack of resources. He and his colleagues say research has found proven methods for helping troubled young adults, and government officials need to invest in those solutions.

This statement has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations, ranging from the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence to Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, and more than 200 violence prevention scholars from across the country.

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